Another Study Establishes Role of Yoga in Breast Cancer
For thousands of years, Yogis have known how to control body processes and functions through yoga. Regular yoga practice is said to retard the process of aging and improve quality of life. Even in modern times, many of the well-known exponents of yoga are known to lead healthy lives well into their nineties.
Recent years have seen an increased interest in role yoga can play in health as well disease. With each passing day, more and more studies are putting a stamp of authenticity on what yogis have been claiming for a long time. Yoga Therapy is a new upcoming modality with a lot of substance and potential to it. Yoga is capable of helping with prevention as well as in challenging the unhindered march of the beast of disease.
Very recently, research team at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (TBCC) in Alberta and the University of Calgary Department of Oncology has published a study that establishes yoga has significant potential and should be further explored as a beneficial physical activity option for cancer survivors. The study found that telomeres, which are protein complexes at the end of chromosomes, maintain their length in breast cancer survivors who have psychological intervention, while telomeres shortened in women who were not involved in support groups. Shortened telomeres are associated with diseases, while longer ones are thought to help protect the body. In the study, in the Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery group, the women attended a 90-minute group session about meditation and Hatha yoga for eight weeks. They were also told to meditate and do yoga at home daily. In the Supportive Expressive Therapy group, the women met for 12 weeks for 90 minutes to talk about their concerns and feelings. It allowed them to express their emotions, rather than stifle them. Participants randomly placed in the control group attended one, six-hour stress management seminar, but did not experience any other interventions. It was seen that the women in both of the active groups where they learned meditation or yoga, or did the support groups, they all maintained their telomere lengths, so they were basically the same. But, the women in the control group who had no intervention — their telomeres became shorter..
Telomeres, Cancer and Aging
There has been a small group of scientists, gerontologists, studying the reasons we age and fall sick, for many years – how, and can we, slow down or control the process. More and more researchers are joining the field. Telomeres are protective pieces of DNA material at the ends of every chromosome in every cell in the body. Telomeres, like protective caps at the end of our shoelaces, function to protect our genome integrity and preserve cell function. As we age our telomeres shorten. Scientific studies have shown that short telomeres are associated with age related decline and dysfunction. Evidence clearly shows that people with long telomeres age healthier and live longer.
A telomere is a region of repetitive DNA at the end of a chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration. A telomere is a repeating DNA sequence (for example, TTAGGG) at the end of the body’s chromosomes. The telomere can reach a length of 15,000 base pairs. Telomeres function by preventing chromosomes from losing base pair sequences at their ends. They also stop chromosomes from fusing to each other. However, each time a cell divides, some of the telomere is lost (usually 25-200 base pairs per division). Telomeres protect a cell’s chromosomes from fusing with each other or rearranging—abnormalities which can lead to cancer—and so cells are normally destroyed when their telomeres are consumed. Most cancers are the result of “immortal” cells which have ways of evading this programmed destruction. Telomeres have been compared with the plastic tips on shoelaces, because they keep chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other, which would destroy or scramble an organism’s genetic information. When the telomere becomes too short, the chromosome reaches a “critical length” and can no longer replicate. This means that a cell becomes “old” and dies by a process called apoptosis.
Telomere activity is controlled by two mechanisms: erosion and addition. Erosion, as mentioned, occurs each time a cell divides. Addition is determined by the activity of telomerase.
Telomerase, also called telomere terminal transferase, is an enzyme made of protein and RNA subunits that elongates chromosomes by adding TTAGGG sequences to the end of existing chromosomes. Telomerase is found in fetal tissues, adult germ cells, and also tumor cells. Telomerase activity is regulated during development and has a very low, almost undetectable activity in somatic (body) cells. Because these somatic cells do not regularly use telomerase, they age. The result of aging cells is an aging body. If telomerase is activated in a cell, the cell will continue to grow and divide. This “immortal cell” theory is important in two areas of research: aging and cancer.
Cellular aging, or senescence, is the process by which a cell becomes old and dies. It is due to the shortening of chromosomal telomeres to the point that the chromosome reaches a critical length. Cellular aging is analogous to a wind up clock. If the clock stays wound, a cell becomes immortal and constantly produces new cells. If the clock winds down, the cell stops producing new cells and dies. Our cells are constantly aging. Being able to make the body’s cells live forever certainly creates some exciting possibilities.
Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.
Yoga in Cancer
At SAVY, we have always maintained that Yoga has a big role to play in all diseases, including cancer. Modern Science has only started wonders that can be achieved with Yoga and Pranayama, the science of breathing exercises, very recently. Some of the recent studies have concluded:the
- Brain Growth: According to a Harvard study, when controlled breathing is used during meditation, it can actually increase the size of the brain. Meditation that involves focusing one’s attention on the breath has the capacity to increase cortical thickness. Please click at the link to read about some major studies done on the effect of meditation on brain. Another paper mentions the role of meditation in improving the quality of life.
- Prevent Heart Attack: Low heart rate variability has been associated with a greater risk of heart attacks. A 2012 study found that deep breathing practices can improve heart rate variability in healthy test subjects.
- Lower Stress: Shallow breathing is a sign of stress and ‘fight or flight’ sign of the body. Sitting quietly and focussing on your breathing helps your body achieve a state of calm, shifting from functioning from sympathetic nervous system ( characterized by drive, fight, flight and ambition) to the parasympathetic nervous system (relax and receive).
- Get rid of Negative Emotions: We feel short of breath during times of panic or stress. This is the body’s natural reaction to a perceived threat. Focusing on breathing can help to alleviate anxiety, symptoms of depression, and other negative emotions. Last year, Australian researchers found that deep breathing 30 minutes before a performance effectively reduced musicians’ performance anxiety.
- : A 2007 study published in the journal ‘Teaching and Learning in Medicine’ found that students who practiced deep-breathing meditation before an exam reported perceiving less anxiety, self-doubt and concentration loss than the students who did not practice deep breathing .
- Lower Blood Pressure: Taking slow, deep breaths for just a few minutes a day could help lower your blood pressure, according to Dr. David Anderson of the National Institutes of Health. While researchers have observed that slow, deep breaths can help to relax and temporarily dilate blood vessels, they don’t yet know precisely why deep breathing has the capacity to cause a lasting drop in blood pressure.
- Inflammation and Immune Function: A brief daily yogic meditation intervention may reverse the pattern of increased NF-κB-related transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased IRF1-related transcription of innate antiviral response genes previously observed in healthy individuals confronting a significant life stressor.
- Gene Expression: A recent study found that mind-body practices like yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises can trigger the body’s “relaxation response,” a physiological state of deep relaxation that alters the way it responds to stress. This state can counter the negative effects of stress for people with health conditions like anxiety and hypertension, by actually altering the expression of genes in the immune system.
- Cellular Aging: A pilot study published in International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that brief daily meditation practices by family dementia caregivers can lead to improved mental and cognitive functioning and lower levels of depressive symptoms. This improvement is accompanied by an increase in telomerase activity suggesting improvement in stress-induced cellular aging.
SAVY’s Crusade Against Diseases
Yoga and Ayurveda offer many ways of helping cancer patients. SAVY offers programs based on Yoga and effective breathing techniques, validated by the stringent test of time and the millions who tried them, and backed and refined by Dr Sahdev’s almost three decades of superlative clinical experience at the fore-front of main-stream Medicine, inspired by his work in Surgical Oncology, Neurosurgery and other Super Specialities at premier medical institutes in India, his study and work in other Alternative modalities and Yoga, and an input of thousands of hours of educated and qualified clinical research and its deep analysis in India, these breathing and other techniques have been proved to actually deliver!
Right from the day of SAVY‘s inception, we’ve put benefits of all the advanced and superlative skills and knowledge on offer for the benefit of humanity under our Yoga Therapy programs, specifically including:
We offer very well-structured, effective, advanced and result-oriented programs for Cancer care as well as other diseases.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Do Yoga regularly. Yoga has been shown to go a long way in boosting immunity. Join our targeted, very well-structured programs to help you achieve that end.
- Learn breathing exercises from a knowledgeable teacher and practice them regularly. Pranayama has been shown to have a lot of healing effect. We offer training in Pranayama in Dr Sahdev’s ‘Breathe and Heal’ Program. Some of the breathing exercises for cancer are given here.
- Practice breast self-massage as well as use professional help. Marma massages, done properly, help with lymphatic drainage and open up blockages in energy channels.
- Exercise regularly using movements that involve the shoulders and build torso and upper arm strength.
- Wear comfortable, natural fiber (i.e. cotton) underwear. Bras that have under wires or that are strapless should not be used as they will make the breasts sag and allow toxins to accumulate in breast tissue.
- Use aluminium-free deodorant. Empirical studies show that aluminum can enter the blood and lymph systems through the skin and severely challenge the immune system.
- Avoid hydrogenated fats like margarine and vegetable shortening.
- Eat a vegetarian diet with little or no saturated or mono-saturated fats, refined sugars, dairy products, meats, and caffeine, and high in whole grains (i.e. brown rice, oats, barley) , green and orange vegetables (i.e. carrots, squashes, kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc.).
- Eat soy-based products, such as soy milk, tofu, and tempeh occasionally.
- Choose to eat organic foods and use environmentally friendly cleaning products. Many synthetic chemicals (including what is found in fertilizers, pesticides. germicides) mimic hormones and cause physical and emotional havoc.
- Use supplements such as vitamins E, C, and B-complex as well as minerals. Eat mineral-rich sea vegetables or take mineral supplements particularly when your stress level is high.
- Use hormone-free contraception. Avoid long-term use of the pill and synthetic hormone therapies when possible.
- Expose your breasts to sun and moon light.
- Sleep in complete darkness.
- Color TVs, microwave ovens, and computer screens emit radiation that can damage tissue.
- Each body type has its own, unique beauty. Seek that out in yourself and become it.
- Sensuality and sexuality are not opposed to or the enemy of spirituality. Celebrate life!
At SAVY we offer special sessions for Yoga for Breast Cancer and other programs for Cancer Care.
Please check the dates for upcoming workshops here.
Learn all that directly under expert guidance of one of the most qualified faculty in the world! Your Yoga Teacher – Dr Jitender K Sahdev E-RYT 500, RCYT, RPYT, D.Sc. (Alternative Medicine), Ph.D. (Alternative Medicine),MD (Alternative Medicine), M.B.,B.S., Fellow in Surgery and Surgical Oncology, the most qualified and experienced Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher in London ON and Canada. A Surgeon by profession from India, he started his Surgical career in a Cancer Hospital in India and in his Surgical career over almost next three decades, performed thousands of breast cancer and other surgeries. He utilizes Yoga as a stand-alone as well as complementary therapy for optimizing the health and wellness of his clients, for easing symptoms associated with disease, and more…. He trained under doyens of Yoga in India for almost four decades. He is a Yoga Therapist in Canada.
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Please check the dates for ‘Yoga in Breast Cancer’ workshop with the studio.
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Dr Jitender K Sahdev
Note : You should check with your health care professional before starting this or any new therapy or exercise program or breathing routine. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, migraines or heart or lung ailments. Women who are pregnant or think they might be pregnant should consult their physician before performing any of the breathing or physical exercises or undertaking any therapy program.
The information contained in the program is not intended to serve as a replacement for professional medical advice. Any use of the information in these programs/ workshops is at the reader’s discretion, risk and responsibility. The studio, author and the publisher specifically disclaim any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use or application of any information contained herein. A health care professional should be consulted regarding your specific situation.
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