A new breast cancer study followed the breast cancer patients in the above-mentioned previous study for 11 years to determine if stress reduction improved immune function and length of survival after breast cancer recurrence. For this study, the 227 breast cancer patients were originally assigned to two groups. Breast cancer patients in the Assessment-Only group were assessed for their current psychological state and immune function. Breast cancer patients assigned to the Assessment + Intervention group received the same intitial assessments, but also received counseling with a trained psychologist designed to teach ways to reduce stress, improve health behaviors, improve quality of life, develop support systems, and improve communication with health care professionals.
Of the original 227 breast cancer patients, 62 of them developed breast cancer again, 41 of whom were available for further study. For these 41 breast cancer patients, information on their overall health, immune function, and psychological well being was collected at diagnosis of breast cancer recurrence and at 4, 8, and 12 months after breast cancer recurrence. Analysis of this information showed that:
- Breast cancer patients in the Assessment + Intervention group were about 60% less likely to die from the recurrent breast cancer.
- All patients were psychologically distressed upon diagnosis of breast cancer recurrence; however, psychological distress improved in women who had received psychological training to reduce stress.
- Recurrent breast cancer patients who received the psychological intervention had stronger immune system function 12 months after recurrence compared to breast cancer patients who did not receive the psychological intervention.
To learn about other lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your breast cancer risk, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer.