The effects of meditation, yoga and support groups for the breast cancer survivors can be noticed on cellular level.

A study conducted by Canadian experts, which brings unambiguous biological proofs about relation between the mind and the body, was published in the magazine “Cancer” in November 2014.


The team of scientists from the Oncology Center Tom Baker and oncology apartment at the University in Calgary, proved that telomeres (nucleoprotein structures at the ends of the chromosomes) withhold their length in breast cancer survivors who practice meditation or included in the support groups. In the other group where the people didn’t use any meditation or intervention, telomeres were shortening.

Although, the properties of telomeres which are regulating the diseases aren’t fully known, shorten telomeres are related with several health conditions like cell aging, while the longer telomeres have protective properties against diseases.

“We already know that psychosocial interventions, like meditation are helpful for better mentally feeling, and now, for the first time we have proofs that they can affect our crucial biological aspects”, says Linda E. Carlson, the leader of the team.

“It was surprising to see the difference in the telomeres’ length during the research that lasted for three months”, said Carlson. “Further studies are required in order to quantify these potential health effects better, but this is surely exciting discovery which provides encouraging news.”

In this research were subjected 88 breast cancer survivors, who had to pass the three month treatment. The average age of the subjects was 55, and most of them finished their treatment two years ago. In order to be eligible for this research, they had to experience significant levels of emotional stress.

The subjects from the first group attended 90 minutes sessions during the first eight weeks, in which they learned the basics of focused meditation and yoga, which goal was adapting non-judgmental awareness in the present moment. The subjects were obligated to practice meditation and yoga at home for 45 minutes a day.

In the therapeutic support group, the attendants were meeting for 90 minutes during the 12 weeks and they were encouraged to speak open about their problems and feelings. The goal was to establish mutual support and lead the women through the expression of a broad spectrum and hard and positive emotions, rather than repressing and suppressing them.

The telomeres in every subject were measured before and after the treatment.

“I was skeptical at the beginning and thought that it was nonsense”, says Alison McPherson who was subjected on chemotherapy and many difficult surgeries in just one year. “Still, now I practice consciousness through the whole day which reminds me that I have to be less reactive, and more kind to myself and the others around me”.

Yet, the scientists aren’t sure if this effect is permanent.