Tel Aviv University Conducts Study Showing Reducing Stress Can Be Life-Changing for Women

An Israeli study highlighted the benefits that stress reduction measures could have on women who have a higher risk of cancer.

The peer-reviewed research discovered that there is a strong impact on a person’s psychological outlook when stress is reduced.

As a matter of fact, it can even help women in facing something as difficult as surgery, such as breast removal.

The numbers

Furthermore, stress reduction can also improve the quality of sleep and emotional wellbeing in a demographic that is known to feel a lot of worry and stress about the elevated risk of developing cancer.

There is a significantly higher risk of women developing ovarian and breast cancer who have harmful variants in the BRCA2 and BRCA1 gene.

Ashkenazi Jews tend to have these variants more than others, as they are found in 1 out of 40 women. The mental health and overall wellbeing of women often suffers due to the higher possibility of cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US has said that women who have the BRCA gene mutation have a 50% higher chance of getting diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they are 70.

In comparison, only 7% of the women in the general population will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The number is 30% for women with ovarian cancer as opposed to less than 1%.

The study

Due to the increased risk, women face psychological difficulties as well as disturbed sleep. Tel Aviv University researchers decided to explore different ways of improving the emotional wellbeing of women with the genes.

These included tools and workshops for promoting tension and stress relief, personal health, along with those that strengthen mental soundness.

One of the researchers involved in the study was Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Shahar Lev-Ari, who said that they discovered that these could offer great benefits.

He stated that disturbed sleep could be addressed in this way and it returned to normal. He said that they had concluded that psychological elements should also be included in care of patients with these gene mutations.

The results

He went on to say that women with a mutation have a very difficult time and a lot of them do not consider life-saving measures like an oophorectomy or a mastectomy that can reduce risk.

Lev-Ari said that many women around the age of 40 are told to take this measure, but many are unable to make a decision due to the emotional burden.

Almost 100 Israeli women were included in the study and they all had a mutation. These women began using self-practice and workshops from the technique known as Inquiry Based Stress Reduction.

According to Lev-Ari, other approaches to stress reduction are likely to give the same results. He said that the carriers had shown major improvement after participating in self-practice and workshops.

These improvements had been seen in their relationship with others, self-acceptance and their life goals. He also said that their sleep quality had also improved, which was a major achievement.

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