Reducing stress can go a long way for cancer patients. Calming techniques like yoga and meditation do wonders to relieve stress during cancer treatments.

Stress is something everyone is familiar with and it affects our bodies in many ways. Some people may feel fatigued from being over-stressed and that is due to stress impairing the immune system. For cancer patients, reducing stress may improve quality of life while providing additional strength for cancer treatments.

Dr. Isaac Eliaz is the man behind the mind-body connection. At a recent presentation, Dr. Eliaz discussed the impact stress plays in impairing the immune system, increasing inflammation and could actually affect DNA integrity. For cancer patients, chronic stress may be particularly damaging to their quality of life and treatments.

While the effects of stress may seem like quackery, there are countless studies over the years that have studied the numerous ways stress can damage the body. For example, the body releases cortisol, a steroid, in response to stress. Cortisol has been shown to increase blood sugar levels while suppressing the immune system.

For cancer patients, stress may begin as soon as a patient hears they have cancer. Undergoing chemotherapy or other difficult cancer treatments weakens the immune system of the patient. Adding in some additional stress due to the cancer diagnosis or the changes caused by cancer therapy may decrease the quality of life of the patient.

Dr. Eliaz believes that simple techniques like yoga or meditation can greatly improve a cancer patient’s quality of life and response to treatment. Spending time with loved ones and engaging in hobbies or activities can also reduce stress for cancer patients. Even taking a minute out for deep breathing can go a long way for your overall mood and health.

Reducing stress also increases clarity of mind, allowing individuals to think better and improve information processing.  According to Dr. Eliaz, yoga helped breast cancer patients reduce their hospital stay and improving quality of life. Yoga may also help reduce nausea that chemotherapy patients may feel after treatment.

For people undergoing everyday stresses like work or commute, taking some time out to meditate may just improve mood, ease that tension in your shoulders and improve your health. For cancer patients, reducing stress may have a drastic effect on quality of life and treatment response. The next time you are feeling stressed out, take a minute out to clear your head and think of all the ways you are improving your health.

Research was presented to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) Fellowship and should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.