You may be noticing a lot of pink around town these days as October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, so declared by the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Over 30 years ago, Nancy Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to find a cure for breast cancer and raise awareness. Since then, information about and interest in breast cancer has increased, and National Breast Cancer Awareness month was born. In honor of this upcoming month, here is some information about the benefits of massage therapy for breast cancer.
Massage Therapy and Breast Cancer
It’s commonly known that massage therapy increases relaxation. Massage has been used for thousands of years as a complimentary treatment for a variety of diseases. Massage therapy has been proven to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety in patients with varying kinds of cancer. Today, health care professionals recognize massage therapy as a useful addition to conventional medical treatment. Massage therapy for breast cancer has shown in numerous studies to improve symptom management and quality of life for patients.
One of the most common studies is one from the University of Miami School of Medicine which stated that women with breast cancer are at risk for elevated depression, anxiety and tumor development due to decreasing cell activity. In their study, 34 women diagnosed with Stage 1 or 2 breast cancer were randomly assigned post-surgery massage therapy for 30-minutes, three times a week for five weeks. The participants’ anxiety and mood were measured at the beginning and end of the study period, as well as urine samples. Immediate effects included reductions in anxiety, depressed mood, and anger, which carried over into long term. Additionally, increased serotonin values, NK cell number, and lymphocytes were noted. Overall, massage therapy for breast cancer patients “improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage therapy” according to the study.
The American Cancer Society has an entire section on their website for complementary and alternative medicine, specifically on massage therapy. It includes information on how it’s promoted for use, what massage therapy for cancer involves, the history, which type is right for you, and more. If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer, take a few minutes to talk to your doctor (or encourage others to do so) about alternative therapies that can complement current medical treatments. A little relaxation can go a long way in the healing process.