There has long been known to be a link between stress and illness and a study of an intervention designed to reduce stress in breast-cancer sufferers has had dramatic results. The study - by researchers at Ohio State University - was made up of 227 participants who had been surgically treated for stage II or III breast cancer. Half were enrolled in the intervention programme while the other half were given check-ups at regular intervals. Those in the intervention group met up weekly, in groups of 8-12 over a four-month period. A clinical psychologist taught them progressive muscle relaxation for stress reduction, problem-solving for common difficulties, how to find support from family and friends, exercise and diet tips, how to deal with treatment side effects and how to keep up with medical treatment and follow-ups. The intervention group reduced their risk of dying of breast cancer by 56% after an average of 11 years and reduced the risk of recurrence by 45%. They lived for an average of 6.1 years, compared to 4.8 years for those in the control group. The participants in the intervention group were also less likely to die of causes such as heart disease or other cancers.
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