Improve Health, Well-Being, and Quality of Life with Breast Cancer with an Integrative Program Including Diet, Exercise, and Mindfulness

Improve Health, Well-Being, and Quality of Life with Breast Cancer with an Integrative Program Including Diet, Exercise, and Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Our cancer experiences take up a lot of energies, mental focus and can drain us emotionally. It is important to have a few tools to help us create ‘down’ and ‘out’ times, and to replenish and reconnect with who we are.  Mindfulness can also help during specific times of our cancer treatment – to prepare for surgery, while undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and before or during scans to help with scanxiety. “ – Karen Sieger

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to relieve chronic pain. It can also help treat the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. Diet and exercise have also been shown to be effective for breast cancer patients who tend to become overweight or obese. The majority of research, however, explores mindfulness, diet, and exercise separately as treatments for breast cancer patients. It will be important to establish if the combination of these treatments may be especially effective.

 

In today’s Research News article “Influence of a Multidisciplinary Program of Diet, Exercise, and Mindfulness on the Quality of Life of Stage IIA-IIB Breast Cancer Survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7265566/), Ruiz-Vozmediano and colleagues recruited breast cancer patients who had completed treatment at least 12 months earlier. They were randomly assigned to a no-treatment control group or to receive a 6-month program of diet, exercise, and mindfulness. The diet intervention consisted of a 5-hour workshop on healthy eating that was repeated after 2 months. Exercise consisted of 7-weeks of 3 times per week for an hour stretching and weekly 50-minutes of dancing. Mindfulness training consisted of a 4-week, twice a week for 90 minutes Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program including discussion, meditation, yoga, and body scan. They were measured before and 6 months after the intervention for body size, food intake, and cancer quality of life. They also provided a blood sample that was assayed for glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels, and tumor markers.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group the participants who received the diet, exercise, and mindfulness intervention had significantly higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet, and greater quality of life including physical, role, and social functioning quality of life. They also had significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), blood triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein.

 

The results suggest that an integrated treatment of diet, exercise, and mindfulness training produces positive changes in breast cancer survivors including improvements in their quality of life, diet, body size, and blood lipid levels. Future research should perform a component analysis to determine the effects of each treatment component and their combinations on the patients. Regardless, the effects observed in the present study tend to predict maintained psychological and physical health in these patients.

 

So, improve health, well-being, and quality of life with breast cancer with an integrative program including diet, exercise, and mindfulness.

 

“mindfulness-based stress reduction can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical side effects of treatments and improving the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients.” – BCRF

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ruiz-Vozmediano, J., Löhnchen, S., Jurado, L., Recio, R., Rodríguez-Carrillo, A., López, M., Mustieles, V., Expósito, M., Arroyo-Morales, M., & Fernández, M. F. (2020). Influence of a Multidisciplinary Program of Diet, Exercise, and Mindfulness on the Quality of Life of Stage IIA-IIB Breast Cancer Survivors. Integrative cancer therapies, 19, 1534735420924757. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735420924757

 

Abstract

Background: Integrative oncology has proven to be a useful approach to control cancer symptoms and improve the quality of life (QoL) and overall health of patients, delivering integrated patient care at both physical and emotional levels. The objective of this randomized trial was to evaluate the effects of a triple intervention program on the QoL and lifestyle of women with breast cancer. Methods: Seventy-five survivors of stage IIA-IIB breast cancer were randomized into 2 groups. The intervention group (IG) received a 6-month dietary, exercise, and mindfulness program that was not offered to the control group (CG). Data were gathered at baseline and at 6 months postintervention on QoL and adherence to Mediterranean diet using clinical markers and validated questionnaires. Between-group differences at baseline and 3 months postintervention were analyzed using Student’s t test for related samples and the Wilcoxon and Mann-Whitney U tests. Results: At 6 months postintervention, the IG showed significant improvements versus CG in physical functioning (p = .027), role functioning (p = .028), and Mediterranean diet adherence (p = .02) and a significant reduction in body mass index (p = .04) and weight (p = .05), with a mean weight loss of 0.7 kg versus a gain of 0.55 kg by the CG (p = .05). Dyspnea symptoms were also increased in the CG versus IG (p = .066). Conclusions: These results demonstrate that an integrative dietary, physical activity, and mindfulness program enhances the QoL and healthy lifestyle of stage IIA-IIB breast cancer survivors. Cancer symptoms may be better managed by the implementation of multimodal rather than isolated interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7265566/

 

Improve Children’s Absorption of Micronutrients with Yoga

Improve Children’s Absorption of Micronutrients with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Aside from the physical benefits of yoga, yoga teaches teens techniques for coping with the unique issues they’re faced with everyday—insecurity about their changing bodies, the enormous pressure to fit in, stressful schedules, and uncertainty about their beliefs and their futures.” – Erica Rodefer

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. The acceptance of yoga practice has spread from the home and yoga studios to its application with children in schools. Studies of these school programs have found that yoga practice produces a wide variety of positive psychosocial and physical benefits. Teachers also note improvements in their students following yoga practice. In addition, school records, academic tests, and physiological measures have shown that yoga practice produces improvements in student grades and academic performance.

 

In developing countries nutritional deficiencies are common. Many children, even those who receive sufficient calories from food are often lacking in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). This lack can impair growth and school performance. So, it would be helpful for the health and well-being of children in developing countries, if a safe and effective method could be developed to promote the absorption of the micronutrients in their food. In today’s Research News article “Effect of yoga practices on micronutrient absorption in urban residential school children.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5509603/, Verma and colleagues examine if yoga practice can improve micronutrient absorption in school age children in India.

 

They recruited 11 to 15-year old boy and girl students from an urban residential school in India and randomly assigned them to yoga practice or a no practice control condition. Both groups continued with an active schedule of extracurricular activities including sports and dance. Yoga practice was conducted 6 days per week for 1-hour per day for 12 weeks and consisted of chanting, postures, and breathing exercises. The students were measured before and after the training for height and weight and blood samples were collected and serum Iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn), Magnesium (Mg), and Copper (Cu) were measured.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group, the children who practiced yoga had significant increases in serum Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, and Copper. It is assumed that since the body cannot produce these micronutrients that the increases must have occurred due to increased absorption of the micronutrients from the food. But, intake of food was not measured and it is possible that the higher serum levels were due to greater food intake in the yoga group. There is, however, evidence that yoga practice can improve digestion. So, it is likely that increased absorption from improved digestion as a result of yoga practice was responsible. If this is true then yoga practice may be a safe and effective means of improving the nutritional status of children in developing countries.

 

So, improve children’s absorption of micronutrients with Yoga.

 

“Mindfulness has been shown to help students have better relationships and more positive behaviors and help them perform better at school. A recent study found it can help students improve their memory. Mindfulness has also been shown to improve teens’ physical health and their mental health.” – Kelly Wallace

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Verma, A., Shete, S., Kulkarni, D., & Bhogal, R. S. (2017). Effect of yoga practices on micronutrient absorption in urban residential school children. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(7), 1254–1258. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.29.1254

 

Abstract

[Purpose] This study was conducted with a view to find out the effect of yoga practices on micronutrient absorption in urban residential school children. [Subjects and Methods] The study population comprised 66 urban school children aged 11–15 years staying in a residential school in Pune City, Maharashtra, India. A stratified random sampling method was used to divide the students into experimental and control groups. There were 33 students in experimental group and 33 students in control group. Both experimental and control groups were assessed for the status of zinc, copper, iron and magnesium at the baseline and at the end of 12 weeks of yoga training. The study participants of experimental group underwent yoga training for 12 weeks, for one hour in the morning for six days a week. The control group did not undergo any yoga training during this time period. [Results] The experimental group participants showed significant improvement in micronutrient absorption as compared to control group. [Conclusion] The findings of this study indicate that yoga practices could improve micronutrient absorption in urban residential school children.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5509603/

Reduce Anxiety with Mindfulness and Aroma Therapy

Reduce Anxiety with Mindfulness and Aroma Therapy

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. “You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” – Elizabeth Hoge.

 

Everyone experiences occasional anxiety and that is normal. But, frequent or very high levels of anxiety can be quite debilitating. These are termed anxiety disorders and they are the most common psychological problem. In the U.S., they affect over 40 million adults, 18% of the population, with women accounting for 60% of sufferers One out of every three absences from work are caused by high levels of anxiety and it is the most common reason for chronic school absenteeism. In addition, people with an anxiety disorder are three-to-five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than non-sufferers, making it a major burden on the healthcare system.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. It has been estimated that 11% of women in the U.S. are taking anti-anxiety medications. But, there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. Although, psychological therapy can be effective it is costly and only available to a small number of sufferers. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders. In addition, aromatherapy, the inhalation of essential oils, has been reported to reduce stress and anxiety, but there has been little systematic scientific study and none combining aromatherapy with mindfulness training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Aromatherapy with two essential oils from Satureja genre and mindfulness meditation to reduce anxiety in humans.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198818/

Soto-Vásquez & Alvarado-García investigated the individual and combined effects of aromatherapy and mindfulness on anxiety in otherwise normal humans. They recruited normal adults between the ages of 25 and 45 years and randomly assigned them to 6 different gender balanced groups; a wait-list control group, mindfulness meditation, aromatherapy with S. brevicalyx essential oil, aromatherapy with S. boliviana essential oil, mindfulness meditation plus aromatherapy with S. brevicalyx essential oil, and mindfulness meditation plus aromatherapy with S. boliviana essential oil. Interventions occurred for 12, 30-minute, sessions over 2 weeks administered Monday through Saturday. Participants were measured for both state and trait anxiety levels before and after treatment.

 

They found that all of the interventions resulted in a significant decrease in both state and trait anxiety levels. The meditation and aromatherapy interventions alone produced and average decrease in state anxiety of 24.1% and trait anxiety of 27.8%. But when meditation and aromatherapy were combined there was, on average, a greater decrease in state anxiety of 34.3% and trait anxiety of 42.4%, although the differences with monotherapy were not statistically significant. All of these effects were of significantly very large magnitude.

 

These are interesting results and suggest that both meditation and aromatherapy effectively reduce anxiety in normal adults. Although not significant the results provide a suggestion that the combination of meditation with aromatherapy produces a greater reduction in anxiety than either alone. This would suggest that they work through different mechanism which can produce additive effects. Unfortunately, the lack of an active control group, greatly reduces confidence in the results. The wait-list control group did not receive any attention, placebo, or active activity. Hence, the results could be due to attentional effects, placebo effects, practice effects, or experimenter bias effects. It remains for future research to investigate these effects with larger groups to improve statistical power and active control conditions to eliminate potential confounds.

 

Regardless, the results are suggestive that aromatherapy and meditation, alone or in combination, may be useful for reducing anxiety in normal humans.

 

“It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behavior. An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.” – Mark Williams

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Soto-Vásquez, M. R., & Alvarado-García, P. A. A. (2017). Aromatherapy with two essential oils from Satureja genre and mindfulness meditation to reduce anxiety in humans. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 7(1), 121–125. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.06.003

 

Abstract

The goal of this study was to verify whether association of aromatherapy with essential oils of Satureja brevicalyx or Satureja boliviana and mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety levels in humans. A randomized experimental trial was carried out with 108 participants who were divided into 6 groups, comprising a waiting list control group and five experimental groups. Aromatherapy was carried out by inhalation of essential oils while mindfulness intervention program was focused on “flow meditation”. The anxiety index was evaluated by State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Measures were taken two times: pretest and posttest. State and Trait anxiety scores showed a decrease in posttest study phase in comparison with pretest in all experimental groups (p < 0.005), especially in those where aromatherapy and mindfulness meditation were used together. All Cohen’s d scores were over to 1 that means a large size effect in anxiety variable. Percentages of change showed reductions of anxiety variable ranging between 20% and 47%. All treatments used isolated or associated, may be considered alternative treatment options for anxiety.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198818/