A new study published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship has found that cancer patients who participate in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, practicing activities such as yoga and meditation, can improve cognitive impairment that occurs as a result of cancer treatment.
Cancer-related cognitive impairment, sometimes called chemo brain or post-cancer cognitive fuzziness, is a common problem for cancer survivors, affecting social relationships, self-confidence, work performance and general quality of life. It can last for more than a decade after cancer treatment has ended, and few treatment options are currently available.
Having already found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can have a positive effect on post-cancer fatigue, depression and sleep disturbance, a team of researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine carried out the first randomized clinical trial evaluating the effects of MBSR on cognitive abilities. MBSR practices are thought to improve cognitive function by focusing the attention and helping the patient to understand how their thoughts, feelings and behaviors can affect their health, and by helping to develop non-reactive coping methods.