Creative art therapy combined with mindfulness meditation can change the brain activity and reduce stress and anxiety in women with breast cancer, according to a new study published in the journal Stress and Health.
Stress and cancer are closely related, that is, greater the stress level poorer the health outcomes in cancer patients. Researchers from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia, USA, observed that the brain of women with breast cancer participating in the eight week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program responded positively and their anxiety and stress levels reduced significantly after eight weeks.
AdvertisementDaniel Monti, the Director of the Jefferson-Myrna Centre who led the study, and his team, discovered that Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy (MBAT) can be beneficial for cancer patients in mitigating stress levels and alleviating the quality of life.
Monti mentioned, "This type of expressive art and meditation program has never before been studied for physiological impact and the correlation of that impact to improvement in stress and anxiety."
Eighteen women diagnosed between six months and three years earlier with breast cancer and not involved in active treatment, were enrolled for the study and randomly assigned to the MBAT program or an education program control group. MBAT group included MBSR curriculum (awareness of emotions, eating, walking, listening, and awareness of breathing) combined with expressive art tasks and offered opportunities for adequate self-expression, simplifying coping strategies and improving self-regulation.
Significant effects were noted on the cerebral blood flow of the MBAT group as compared to the control group. The test group showed increases in the emotional centers of the brain dealing with perception of emotions, regulation of stress responses, and reward system. This positively affected the reduction of stress and anxiety among the volunteers.
Prof. Monti said, "Our goal was to observe possible mechanisms for the observed psychosocial effects of MBAT by evaluating the cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes associated with an MBAT intervention in comparison with a control of equal time and attention."
He further added, "This type of expressive art and meditation program has never before been studied for physiological impact and the correlation of that impact to improvements in stress and anxiety."
It helps express emotional information in an effective and powerful manner.
Daniel Monti focused on decreasing stress and anxiety in women with breast cancer with the expectation of having a positive effect on their cancer outcomes.
The scientists concluded that women who practice yoga, breathing exercises, walking, and other such activities are in a better position to respond in a meaningful manner and cope with cancer.