A groundbreaking study indicates that stress reduction inhibits tumor growth. The research was conducted by investigators at the University of Miami, with breast cancer patients.

The new study recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry is one of the first to link psychological intervention with genetic expression in cancer patients.

According to the study, the group-based Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management (CBSM) intervention designed by the researchers affects which genes in the cells of the immune system are turned on and off, in ways that may facilitate better recovery during treatment for breast cancer, explains Michael H. Antoni, professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and program leader of Biobehavioral Oncology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

CBSM is a 10-week group-based program developed at UM that combines relaxation, imagery and deep breathing, along with cognitive behavior therapy, which is designed to help patients reduce bodily tension, change the way they deal with intrusive stressful thoughts, decrease negative moods, and improve their interpersonal communication skills, according to a university press release.

“For the women in the CBSM groups, there was better psychological adaptation to the whole process of going through treatment for breast cancer and there were physiological changes that indicated that the women were recovering better,” Antoni says. “The results suggest that the stress management intervention mitigates the influence of the stress of cancer treatment and promotes recovery over the first year.”

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