Mindfulness research for cancer recovery

heartThis post is dedicated to my friend, Diana, who just passed away from breast cancer.  Her soft and loving spirit is honored by many.

Research results show that mindfulness practice may maintain telomere length.  I know that my mindfulness and meditation practice has been significant my emotional and physical well-being in dealing with cancer and ongoing survivorship.  This is why I decided to start teaching meditation and mindfulness to others – to build resiliency to life’s challenges and calm the mind and body, which greatly benefits health.

It is wonderful to see more research arriving each day about the proven benefits.  Here is a research abstract on this subject shared through InspireHealth, a wonderful integrative cancer organization that helped me through my greatest time of need.

Mindfulness and Supportive-Expressive Cancer Therapy

Click here for full article.

Telomeres are protein-based molecules that protect the ends of chromosomes and provide stability to genes. Though not completely understood, telomere function is thought to be related to telomere length and shortened telomeres have been associated with several illness. Shorter telomere length (TL) has also been found to predict earlier mortality in breast cancer and some types of leukemia. TL may be susceptible to stress and so researchers wanted to study if changes in telomere length occurred following psychosocial interventions.
Results showed that both MBCR (Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery) and SET (support-expressive group therapy) maintained TL over the 3-month intervention period, while women in the control group showed a non-statistically significant trend toward shortened TL. Interestingly, both MBCR and SET groups showed similar findings with respect to TL despite the fact that MCBR participation resulted in the most benefit for stress and mood.
In fact, changes in TL were not associated with changes in stress or mood scores perhaps suggesting that simply practicing mindfulness or emotional expression may provide physiological benefit even in the absence of subjective improvement.

What are Telomeres?

TelomereTelomeres are caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes.  They are like plastic tips on the end of shoelaces. When this coating is damaged or shortened, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job.

Shortened telomeres are observed in many cancers. Many researchers believe shortened telomeres are associated with the aging process and life expectancy.

Although this research study was small (88 women with breast cancer), it is promising and suggests proof that mindfulness practice maintains the length of telomeres, so they don’t shorten further.

So this is more reason to learn mindfulness and meditation. Not only do people feel the benefits, but now research is showing the benefits more and more.

My hope is that more and more people will adopt meditation and mindfulness into their lives for the many benefits to themselves and others.



2 thoughts on “Mindfulness research for cancer recovery

  1. i always feel the most calm and in my body after meditating, it makes sense with the science that it helps us, just reading your words helps too, thanks

    • Hi Allan, that’s wonderful that you have meditation in your life as well. What a great life skill to have, isn’t it! Thank you for following my blog and commenting, Alan. Have a great day in this wet Vancouver weather.

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