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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Transcendental meditation reduces stress, improves mental health among women with breast cancer
St Joseph Hospital and Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention Translate This Article
13 October 2011
Two years ago today, 13 October 2009, publication was announced of a new study showing that women with breast cancer experienced reduced stress and improved mental health and emotional well-being through the Transcendental Meditation Technique.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Integrative Cancer Therapies just before National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) in the US, and was reported widely in the news media. Its findings continue relevant today, given the technique's effectiveness and the substantial use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among women.
Excerpts from the original press announcement follow:
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Chicago, Ill. (October 13, 2009) - Women with breast cancer reduced stress and improved their mental health and emotional well being through the Transcendental Meditation technique, according to a new study published in the current issue of the peer-reviewed Integrative Cancer Therapies (Vol. 8, No. 3: September 2009).
''A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Transcendental Meditation on Quality of Life in Older Breast Cancer Patients'' was a collaboration between the Center for Healthy Aging at Saint Joseph Hospital; the Institute for Health Services, Research and Policy Studies at Northwestern University; the Department of Psychology at Indiana State University; and the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management.
''It is wonderful that physicians now have a range of interventions to use, including Transcendental Meditation, to benefit their patients with cancer,'' said Rhoda Pomerantz, M.D., study co-author and chief of gerontology, Saint Joseph Hospital. ''I believe this approach should be appreciated and utilized more widely.''
One hundred thirty women with breast cancer, 55 years and older, participated in the two-year study at Saint Joseph Hospital. The women were randomly assigned to either the Transcendental Meditation technique or to a usual care control group. Patients were administered quality of life measures, including the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B), every six months for two years. The average intervention period was 18 months.
Stress contributes to the onset and progression of breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women—striking about 13% of women. Women over the age of 50 have four times the incidence of breast cancer compared to women below 50. Breast cancer remains a leading cause of death among women, according to the National Cancer Institute.
''Emotional and psychosocial stress contribute to the onset and progression of breast cancer and cancer mortality,'' said Sanford Nidich, lead author of the study and senior researcher at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management.
'The Transcendental Meditation technique reduces stress and improves emotional well-being and mental health in older breast cancer patients. The women in the study found their meditation practice easy to do at home and reported significant benefits in their overall quality of life,' Dr. Nidich said.
''Decades of research have shown that stress contributes to the cause and complications of cancer,'' said Robert Schneider, M.D., F.A.C.C., co-author and director of Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management. 'The data from this well-designed clinical trial and related studies suggest that effective stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation program may be useful in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer and its deleterious consequences.'
The study was supported by grants from the Retirement Research Foundation of Chicago and the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
An increasing number of women have been using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for female-specific cancers. In terms of breast cancer, recent studies indicate that CAM use among women may be as high as 90 percent.
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