Women's Health

How Meditation and Mindfulness Can Be Beneficial for Breast Cancer Patients

How Meditation and Mindfulness Can Be Beneficial for Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer can be emotionally draining and stressful for women. Depending on the consequences of the disease, the after-effects can range from minimal to drastic.

Many women who have more advanced cases end up getting breast alterations, and this can also have several psychological consequences as well. Losing the womanly figure and the fear of recurrence are among the many worries that feed the anxieties felt by millions of breast cancer patients around the globe.

How can breast cancer patients deal with the emotional stress of treatment and recovery?

Medical care often does a wonderful job of staying up to date with the latest chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapies available to fight off malignant cells. However, sometimes we don't pay as much attention to the whole patient, such as their psychological well-being, family support, and mental health. It's extremely important for patients and clinicians alike to address this, as depression and anxiety are extremely common in patients suffering from breast cancer. Especially if there is advanced disease with poor prognosis, there needs to be psychological ramifications addressed to help improve quality and life and provide better-coping skills for such a stressful time.

Mindfulness and meditation can help to relieve some emotional stress that breast cancer patients face

Practicing mindfulness techniques can be really helpful for general health and psychological well-being. This holds true not just for healthy individuals, but also those who suffer from serious illness as well. A recent study showed that women with breast cancer can benefit greatly from meditation and yoga practice by decreasing stress, limiting side effects of treatment, and even improving symptoms of their disease.

Research shows that meditation, yoga, and relaxation are beneficial to breast cancer

A study in New York, performed at the School of Public Health at Columbia University, investigated whether breast cancer patients benefited from integrative therapies and supportive care. Researchers analyzed many different clinical trials and alternative therapies over the past 25 years. Among the 80 therapies analyzed, meditation, yoga, and relaxation with imagery were found to have the strongest evidence for benefit to these women. These particular exercises were found to improve anxiety and other mood imbalances that affected patients with breast cancer.

In addition, they found that stress management, massage, and music therapy all helped to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Integrative therapies and supportive care overall helped to improve quality of life for these women. Their important findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs.

At the end of the day, the best therapies for you are unique to you. Everyone is different, and what works for someone else may not be good for you. So keep an open mind, and talk with your doctor about the different therapies that may be available to help you. 

Read on to learn more about how meditation and mindfulness can benefit any women experiencing breast cancer.