Chemo Brain Impairment: Studies have Shown that Mindfulness Can Help

Chemo Brain Impairment: Studies have Shown that Mindfulness Can Help

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If you or someone you know has had the unfortunate experience of being diagnosed with cancer you have had to make some tough choices in order to preserve your life and quality of life. Perhaps in your case, the choice was made to undergo the harsh treatments of chemotherapy.

For those of you that aren’t aware Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment where chemicals are used to kill the cancer cells. These chemicals are very strong and can carry some pretty intense side effects. The chemicals are designed to target any cell that divides quickly in the hopes to hit the cancer cells but, unfortunately, our body has other cells that divide quickly too.

Healthy cells that line your intestines and mouth are at high risk as well as those that cause your hair to grow.

What is Chemo Brain?

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via a4bc.wordpress.com

People who survive the battle of cancer through the use of chemo can end up with an issue that makes it hard to think or remember things which are often referred to as chemo brain. This chemotherapy connected impairment of the brain is also known as chemo fog.

Although more research is needed to better pinpoint the exact chemical or issue causing the impairment it is still a very real issue and concern for these patients.

Mindfulness Meditation as a form of Stress Reduction Has been found to Help Reduce Chemo Brain

The Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Medicine recently conducted a study which shows us that a stress reduction program based on mindfulness can create a sustainable improvement to people who suffer from cognitive impairment due to cancer treatments. This program has shown success in improving focus, memory and function in these cancer survivors.

This treatment referred to as MBSR was used to help colorectal and breast cancer survivors who were feeling fatigued after their battle and most of whom were in fact treated with chemotherapy.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”- psychologytoday.com

Focus Improves and Thinking becomes Easier with MBSR

Cancer survivors who participated in the program liked it so much that they had over a 95% retention rate which suggests that they found benefits from the 8-week class made up of 2-hour sessions.  

The patients in the control group had supportive counseling and educational materials which is the common therapeutic approach. Whereas the people who participated in the MBSR group had a greater ability to pay attention, made fewer mistakes on the various cognitive tasks, and reported that they saw lots of improvement.

Other related studies found the treatment to also help with post-cancer depression, sleep disturbances, and fatigue.

via ziptrials.us
via ziptrials.us

Researchers believe that the reason why mindfulness training works on helping someone improve their functioning is because of how the technique works. When you are using mindfulness you are trained to observe your internal body and mind reality without reacting.

For example, you would sit and observe the various sensations of your body, your thoughts, and emotions without seeking for a distraction or engage with them. You would just observe them as they are while staying present and not react to them.

When a person works hard to stay present for long periods of time it literally rewires the brain in such a way that many other parts of your life change for the better because of the effort you put forth in a simple meditation session.  

The specific technique used for these cancer survivors was both yoga and meditation as well as other elements to help their patients get the best results.

“More people than ever are surviving cancer due to the development of targeted and effective treatments,” said Shelley Johns, Psy.D. “Yet many cancer survivors are living with difficult and persistent side effects of these treatments, which can be incapacitating.”

“Mindfulness meditation practices enable cancer survivors to better manage cancer-related cognitive impairment, reported by approximately 35 percent of cancer survivors who have completed treatment,” said Dr. Johns,”MBSR provides a creative solution for survivors whose social and occupational functioning may have been negatively impacted by cognitive difficulties.”

What an awesome way to help support those who are recovering from such an intense and trying time in their life.

Already a hardcore meditator?

For those of you that are hardcore meditators and are looking for the next level of peace and liberation from a meditation technique have got to check out Vipassana. It is an incredibly transformational program that has been carefully passed down from the Buddha Gotama and yet many Buddhists don’t know about it.  

This intense 10-day course isn’t for the faint of heart and yet if you work hard and learn the technique it will forever change your life and it has done for me. The best news is that the program is free. Your session is paid for by previous students that felt the program was so beneficial that they gifted it to you. Click on this link to learn more.

Sources- www.sciencedaily.com

www.mayoclinic.org

www.webmd.com

www.psychologytoday.com

www.dhamma.org

Image Credit: consciouslivingtv.com

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