We have heard it before; when faced with an obstacle think “mind over matter”. We can push ourselves to run that extra mile, order the salad instead of the cheeseburger, decline the dessert menu. But what if “mind over matter” meant more than willpower? What if we rephrase this a little to read, “mindfulness matters”; what would that mean to us?
A recent study suggests that mindful meditation can preserve telomere length in breast cancer patients. What does this mean? Telomeres are the protective tips at the end of chromosomes, think the plastic tip of a shoelace, and are seen above in pink. Maintaining the strength and length of telomeres is essential as telomere shortening is associated with cancer, diabetes, and cell-aging. Those with high stress are also seen to have associated telomere shortening. Mindful meditation and support groups may prevent the deterioration of telomeres.
The study, published in Cancer, by Dr. Carlson found that telomere length was maintained in the two experimental groups who underwent different versions of support groups/mindful meditation associated with their breast cancer; whereas the telomere length shortened in the control group – those who had breast cancer and only received a 6 hour stress management course.
This study gives evidence to physical benefits of mindful meditation, and possibly extending longevity through lifestyle changes.