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Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness Improves Health after Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) helps women with breast cancer.

Stress reduction training that includes yoga, meditation and body awareness is found by University of Missouri researchers in the Sinclair School of Nursing to help women with breast cancer improve their emotional and physical well-being.

The meditation technique, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a type of mindfulness training that blends meditation, yoga and physical awareness, was found by Yaowarat Matchim, a former nursing doctoral student; Jane Armer, professor of nursing; and Bob Stewart, professor emeritus of education and adjunct faculty in nursing, to improve breast cancer survivors’ health.

“MBSR is another tool to enhance the lives of breast cancer survivors,” Armer said. “Patients often are given a variety of options to reduce stress, but they should choose what works for them according to their lifestyles and belief systems.”

The technique should be practice routinely, according to Armer who says MSBR gives breast cancer survivors a “new way of thinking” that improves long-term health outcomes from helping women gain more control over their lives.

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Group sessions, over eight to ten weeks, lowered the women’s blood pressure and heart rate, improved mood and helped them learn coping techniques, facilitated through discussion of how the body responds to stress.

“Post diagnosis, breast cancer patients often feel like they have no control over their lives,” Armer said. “Knowing that they can control something—such as meditation—and that it will improve their health, gives them hope that life will be normal again.”

The study is published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research. According to background information from the authors, 50 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer experience depression.

Practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) that incorporates yoga, meditation and physical awareness, was found to improved emotional and physical well-being, which should be continued after training sessions end.

WJNR: doi:10.1177/0193945910385363
“Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Health Among Breast Cancer Survivors”
Yaowarat Matchim et al.
December, 2011