Scientists Proved That Meditation Alters Body Cells

Recently, a sound research carried out in Canada found strong and interesting evidence that meditation and yoga can change the cellular activity in the bodies of cancer survivors. The study was published in The Cancer Journal and shows that there is a straight connection between meditation and how the "mind-body" system works.

It seems like modern man has an unconditional reflex to put some distance between what he calls "scientific" and old practices such as meditation, prayer, contemplation, spiritual introspection and others of the same family ... since these can hardly be explained in a "material" manner or scientifically quantified and therefore appear as being from another dimension. Not everyone is aware today about the potential of such practices nor is ready to dive into and try a different paradigm … yet there are many people who feel the calling of this ancestral legacy.


It is interesting to mention that the investigation into these practices has always been a challenge to various scientific communities, as the thousands of studies that have been carried out in the last 50 to 70 years demonstrate. Today various lifestyle techniques encourage people to practice meditation and positive thinking in order to improve health and achieve happiness … obviously everyone has a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or at least heard about a friend of a friend who has healed a terminal illness by giving up a stressful job and starting a meditation program. Still, so far, not much scientific evidence to support these theories have been available.


Recently, a sound research carried out in Canada found strong and interesting evidence that meditation and yoga can change the cellular activity in the bodies of cancer survivors. The study was published in The Cancer Journal and shows that there is a straight connection between meditation and how the "mind-body" system works.


More specifically, the research shown that the telomeres - the end chromosome protein caps that determine the age of the cells – kept the same length for the cancer survivors who meditated or took part in support groups for a three-month period! On the other hand, telomeres of cancer survivors who did not take part in these groups were consistently shortened during the three-month study.


Scientists still do not know for sure whether telomeres are involved in disease regulation. Yet, there is evidence that shortened telomeres are associated with a lower probability of survival in multiple diseases, including breast cancer, as well as cellular aging, while longer telomeres help the body to protect from disease.


“We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology" said Linda E. Carlson in a press release. She is a psychosocial researcher at Tom Baker Cancer Cente in Canada and conducted the research alongside a team of scientists from the University of Calgary.


"It was surprising that we could see any difference in telomere length at all over the three-month period studied" , Carlson said. "Further research is needed to better quantify these potential health benefits, but this is an exciting discovery that provides encouraging news."


As part of the research, 88 survivors of breast cancer who completed treatment and experienced significant levels of emotional stress have been selected and monitored. The participants’ age was 55 years on average. They have been split into three groups and asked to perform slightly different procedures. Thus, the first group has been asked to participate in eight weekly group sessions of 90 minutes duration where participants received instructions in meditation and yoga exercises. They were asked to practice meditation and yoga at home for 45 minutes each day.


The second group have been asked to meet for 90 minutes each week for three months and the participants have been encouraged to speak openly about their concerns and feelings. Finally, the third control group simply participated in a six-hour stress management seminar.


Before and after the study each participant has been screened for blood and the telomeres have been measured. The first two groups maintained the same telomere length during the three months of study, while in the third group the telomere shortened. The two groups that participated in the regular meetings also reported lower levels of stress and better mood.


Although the findings of this research represent a huge achievement it cannot show yet whether the effects are maintained long-term nor the exact cause of this extraordinary biological effect. Obviously more research is needed in order to determine if it is possible to keep the same results for a larger number of participants and, the most important, what is the conclusion on long term for our health!


This study is not just a singular attempt, a separate group of Italian scientists published in PLOS ONE, some time ago, the results of another research indicating that meditation can change the structure of our brain while a research done even in the 1980s suggested that cancer patients joining support groups have more chances to survive!

Not to mention that, for many of those who already meditate, this approach is not at all something new ….

See abstract at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.29063/full

Photo by Antonika Chanel on Unsplash

https://youtu.be/MOW6wf2FvSM

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