Meditation, support groups: Clear new evidence for mind-body connection demonstrated

November 3, 2014
Science Daily/Alberta Health Services
For the first time, researchers have shown that practicing mindfulness meditation or being involved in a support group has a positive physical impact at the cellular level in breast cancer survivors.

"We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology," says Dr. Linda E. Carlson, PhD, principal investigator and director of research in the Psychosocial Resources Department at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

"It was surprising that we could see any difference in telomere length at all over the three-month period studied," says Dr. Carlson, who is also a U of C professor in the Faculty of Arts and the Cumming School of Medicine, and a member of the Southern Alberta Cancer Institute. "Further research is needed to better quantify these potential health benefits, but this is an exciting discovery that provides encouraging news."

Allison McPherson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. When she joined the study, she was placed in the mindfulness-based cancer recovery group. Today, she says that experience has been life-changing.

"I was skeptical at first and thought it was a bunch of hocus-pocus," says McPherson, who underwent a full year of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries. "But I now practise mindfulness throughout the day and it's reminded me to become less reactive and kinder toward myself and others."

Study participant Deanne David was also placed in the mindfulness group."Being part of this made a huge difference to me," she says. "I think people involved in their own cancer journey would benefit from learning more about mindfulness and connecting with others who are going through the same things."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141103114132.htm

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