Program helps breast cancer survivors

Dec. 30, 2011 at 11:51 PM

COLUMBIA, Mo., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A meditation technique can help breast cancer survivors improve their emotional and physical well-being, U.S. researchers say.

Yaowarat Matchim, a former nursing doctoral student; Jane Armer, professor of nursing; and Bob Stewart, professor emeritus of education and adjunct faculty in nursing, at the University of Missouri, said survivors face further health challenges after their treatments end.

Previous research reported as many as 50 percent of breast cancer survivors are depressed, the researchers said.

The study, published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research, found breast cancer survivors' health improved after they learned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction -- a type of training that incorporates meditation, yoga and physical awareness.

"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," Armer said in a statement.

The program consists of group sessions for eight to 10 weeks, during which participants practice meditation skills, discuss how bodies respond to stress and learn coping techniques.

The researchers found breast cancer survivors who learned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction lowered their blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate, and their mood improved.

The level of mindfulness increased after taking the class. Armer suggested women should continue the program after the class ends to maintain the positive effects.

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