An increasing number of women are using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for female-specific cancers. In terms of breast cancer, recent studies indicate that CAM use among women may be as high as 90 percent.
Women with breast cancer reduced stress and improved their mental health and emotional well being through the Transcendental Meditation technique, according to a new study appearing in the September issue of Integrative Cancer Therapies.
"It is wonderful that physicians now have a range of interventions to use, including Transcendental Meditation, to benefit their patients with cancer," said Rhoda Pomerantz, M.D., study co-author and chief of gerontology at Chicago’s Saint Joseph Hospital. "I believe this approach should be appreciated and utilized more widely."
One hundred thirty women with breast cancer, 55 years and older, participated in the two-year study at Saint Joseph Hospital. The women were randomly assigned to either the Transcendental Meditation technique or to a standard care control group. Patients were administered quality of life measures, including the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast, every six months for two years. The average intervention period was 18 months.
Breast cancer is the most common female-specific cancer, affecting about 13 percent of women. Women over the age of 50 have four times the incidence of breast cancer compared to women below 50.
Emotional and psychosocial stress contributes to the onset and progression of breast cancer and cancer mortality. The Transcendental Meditation technique reduces stress and improves emotional well being and mental health in older breast cancer patients. The women in the study reported significant benefits in their overall quality of life.
"Decades of research have shown that stress contributes to the cause and complications of cancer," said Robert Schneider, M.D., study co-author and director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa. "The data from this trial and related studies suggest that effective stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation program may be useful in the prevention and treatment and of breast cancer and its deleterious consequences."
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