Meditation and mindfulness can help improve quality of life for breast cancer survivors

A recent US study has highlighted the benefits of mindfulness and meditation for women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, examined a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Breast Cancer programme using a randomised clinical trial in more than 300 women who had received recent treatment for breast cancer.  

The researchers measured a number of physical and emotional health factors at the beginning of the study, such as depression, anxiety, stress and fear of recurrence.

They then split the women into two groups: one received usual care and the other group attended the six-week mindfulness programme.

The programme involved attending a one-hour class each week which focused on meditation, body scans and gentle yoga. Women were also given manuals and CDs to help guide mindfulness at home.

At the end of the programme, both groups were reassessed and those women who had done the mindfulness programme were found to have experienced improvements in a number of psychological and physical symptoms.

Improvements were noticed in:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear of recurrence overall
  • Fear of recurrence problems
  • Fatigue.

The researchers also found that those who had the highest levels of stress at the beginning of the study benefited most from the mindfulness programme.

BCAC chair, Libby Burgess, says although small, this trial echoes the results of other similar studies.

“It seems that meditation or mindfulness programmes can help some women to deal with the stress of a breast cancer diagnosis.  If you or someone you love with breast cancer is feeling stressed or anxious then this may be a valuable option to pursue,” she says.

4 July 2016

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