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Meditation and Yoga for Breast Cancer Patients

A study found that yoga, imagery relaxation and meditation were the most helpful forms of alternative therapy in relieving stress and anxiety in breast cancer patients.

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs examined what complimentary therapies are the most beneficial to breast cancer patients. The study found that yoga, relaxation with imagery and meditation improved the patients moods and relieving stress the most.

According to Time, nearly 80 percent of American breast cancer patients seek out complimentary therapies to help with anxiety and stress after their diagnosis. Alternative therapies have long been paired with traditional approaches such as chemotherapy and radiation, to combat negative emotional side effects such as stress and feelings of sadness.

The JNCI Monographs study performed randomized controlled trials on women who were using alternative therapies in combination with traditional methods to treat breast cancer. The results showed that yoga, meditation and relaxation with imagery were the most beneficial at relieving a patient's stress and anxiety, and improving their quality of life. 

Other therapies that were included in the study included massage, music therapy and energy conservation. Evidence of their benefits was not conclusive, and researchers recommend further investigation into all aspects of the study's reported results.

A similar study was released in March 2014 by researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The study found that yoga improved the quality of life in breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy by regulating their stress hormones.

The women in the study were required to attend 1-hour yoga classes three times a week while having radiation therapy. They reported their fatigue and depression levels as well as their sleep quality and ability to function on a daily basis. Researchers studied their saliva and used electrocardiograms (EKGs) to analyze the levels of the patient's cortisol, or stress hormones.The results indicated that the women who were doing yoga had the sharpest decline in cortisol levels, suggesting that the exercise was helping their bodies to regulate the stress hormones.

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