Writing May Help Breast Cancer Survivors Overcome Negative Emotions

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Expressive writing helped improve the quality of life in breast cancer survivors.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Houston found that expressive writing may help Asian-American breast cancer survivors overcome negative emotions they may feel. When women write down their fears and emotions, it may help them experience better health outcomes.

"Writing a journal can be therapeutic, but oftentimes we don't get the empirical evidence to determine whether it's effective or not," Qian Lu, assistant professor and director of the Culture and Health Research Center at the University of Houston, said in a statement. "In my research study, I found long-term physical and psychological health benefits when research participants wrote about their deepest fears and the benefits of a breast cancer diagnosis."

Cancer patients aren't invincible to symptoms common to post-traumatic stress disorder. Depression, anxiety about going into treatment and a feeling of loss are all common feelings experienced by those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The study found that patients who wrote about the emotionally difficult events they faced for at least 20 minutes at a time for three or four days at a time saw an increase in their immune system's function. Women also reportedly had an increased ability to fight off infection and withstand stress.

A decrease in intrusive thoughts and fatigue, a reduction in posttraumatic stress and and increase in quality of life are additional health benefits associated with expressive writing.

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