Maintaining telomere length has been directly linked to longer lifespan in a number of studies. A telomere is the structure at the end of a chromosome that protects it from deteriorating or fusing with other chromosomes. Its length is being used to measure the potential success of integrative therapy for recovering cancer patients; now University of Calgary research has found that mindfulness meditation helps.
The researchers tested 88 breast cancer survivors with a previous diagnosis of stage-one to stage-three breast cancer. The patients’ telomere lengths were tested after either group-support therapy or mindfulness meditation training that included gentle hatha yoga exercises. Results showed that while the control group’s telomere lengths decreased over time, both the mindfulness group and the support therapy group were on average able to maintain their telomere length throughout the testing period.