Posted by: cg00n | December 4, 2008

Still nothing much happening

On the whole I’m just as glad there is nothing much happening, of course.  I went for another MRI of my leg today but will not know the results (unless they’re really scary) until after Christmas I expect.  Other than having to leave home at the crack of yawn it was very uneventful.  Twenty minutes or so of enforced horizontal rest gave me a chance to practice mindfulness-of-breathing meditation.  Next tuesday sees the last in the series of mindfulness classes P and I have been taking.  Some spill-over into my life is starting to happen.   For example, fewer things get me really worked up these days (and the gods know there are plenty of things that could) because I am better able to catch myself in the act of thinking inflammatory thoughts and deciding it just isn’t worth the effort.  Since this is a difficulty I have had for as long as I can remember I am quite pleased with my progress on the meditation front.  Mr. N. Reid of Ottawa sent me this Yes! magazine link on precisely this topic.  By the way, it appears that the current online edition of Yes! is all about sustainable happiness.  I’m all over it.

Speaking of stress and the reduction thereof, there is an In Brief article in the November 22nd issue of New Scientist.

DOES “de-stressing” help keep cancer at bay? A small number of women recovering from breast cancer surgery who took part in a psychological “intervention” designed to reduce stress and promote a healthy lifestyle survived longer and were less likely to relapse than those who did not.

Starting in 1994, Barbara Andersen at Ohio State University in Columbus and her colleagues recruited 227 women recovering from breast cancer surgery and about to undergo chemotherapy. Half received a year-long intervention that included encouragement to relax, delegate stressful tasks, exercise, eat healthily and stick to medication.

Twenty-four per cent of women who received the intervention relapsed within a follow-up period lasting for 11 years on average, compared with 29 per cent of those who did not. However, by taking into account how long remission lasted, and controlling for factors affecting the risk of relapse, such as age and cancer severity, Andersen’s team calculates that the intervention reduced the risk of relapsing by 45 per cent and of dying by 55 per cent (Cancer, DOI: 10.1002/cncr.23969).

This supports findings in animals that chronic exposure to stress hormones weakens immunity and hastens the spread of cancer, says Andersen. But Mark Petticrew of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says more evidence is needed to confirm this in people.

I’m off to have a nice relaxing beer now.

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Responses

  1. I believe you’ll soon be coming West for a visit … and I’ll be able to grab a beer and celebrate with you.

  2. I wonder what an intervention encouraging one to take on more challenges, get more bed rest, and eat whatever you like would do. It’s difficult to ethically placebo-control this sort of trial; you can’t really ask the psychologist to deliberatly give bad advice, or be unsupportive. I suppose you could give the same treatment to healthy people and see what it did to their life expectancy. The conclusion could be that advice on how to lead a healthy low-stress life, or regularly talking to someone about it, is better for everyone, cancer patient or no.

    On the other hand, since the standard treatment is no advice, does it matter? It’s still a very effective way of improving patient’s lives, cheap and probably having good side-effects.

  3. Are interventions like the one studied covered by Medicare?


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