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Yoga Can Save You Not Just From Stress But Cancer Too

Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi, by reversing the molecular reactions in the stress causing DNA, help to reduce the risk of depression and cancer.

Yoga Can Save You Not Just From Stress But Cancer Too

Yoga and meditation help reduce risk of cancer and depression

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Mind body interventions like yoga & meditation have many health benefits.
  2. They reduce molecular reactions in the stress causing DNA.
  3. It thus helps to reduce the risk of depression and inflammatory diseases.
Mind body interventions, like Yoga are medical and pseudo medical processes based on the idea of our mind influencing our physical body. These practices are designed to enhance the mind's capacity to affect our bodily function and symptoms of any diseases. The mind-body techniques include behavioural, psychological, social, expressive, and spiritual practices.

Scientific research has proved that there are several benefits of yoga and meditation, like in the following aspects.

1. Pain: Yoga has been found to be very effective in the treatment of a variety of medical problems like headaches, coronary artery disease and chronic pain.

2. Cancer: It is also considered useful in reducing the symptoms of chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting and physical pain in patients with cancer.


3. Stress: Researchers have found that yoga increases the perceived capacity of an individual to cope with significant problems and challenges in life.

4. Immune System: There is evidence that yoga and meditation facilitate the brain and central nervous system's influence on the immune system. Yoga has the capacity to enhance immune function outcomes, including defence against and recovery from infection and disease.

Also read: Yoga May Help Combat Depression: Study

How is this made possible through Yoga?

Ivana Buric from the Coventry University in the UK says, "Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don't realise is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business."

According to a study, published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, yoga affects molecular reactions in the DNA and decrease the production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB). When a person is exposed to a stressful event, their sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is the bodily function responsible for the 'fight-or-flight' response gets triggered, resulting in production of this molecule NF-kB. This reaction while useful for dealing with a stressful situation, can lead to a higher risk of cancer, accelerated ageing and psychiatric disorders like depression if persistent.

Other molecules called cytokines are also produced in the process that can cause cellular inflammation.

In today's society, where stress is increasingly psychological and often prolonged, pro-inflammatory gene expression can be persistent and therefore more likely to cause psychiatric and medical problems.

Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi, by reversing the molecular reactions in the stress causing DNA, help to reduce the risk of depression and cancer. But only if practiced regularly. Additionally, it has been found that they suppress the expression of genes and genetic pathways that promote inflammation.

This effect can be seen in the examination of 18 studies which include 846 participants over a span of 11 years. The studies reveal a pattern in the molecular changes happening to the body as a result of MBIs, and how these changes benefit our mental and physical health.

The results show that people who practice MBIs exhibit the opposite effect, characterized by a decrease in production of NF-kB and cytokines, leading to a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene expression pattern and a reduction in the risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.

"These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, the MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing," adds Buric.

However, not just these but there are other important lifestyle changes like eating that can positively affect gene expressions. "By choosing healthy habits every day, we can create a gene activity pattern that is more beneficial for our health," Buric says. "Even just 15 minutes of practicing mindfulness seems to do the trick."

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