Massages not only help you relax but have many other benefits such as supporting the healing process, boosting your energy levels, eases pain, lifts your mood and an over-all feeling of well-being. It is a “hands on” treatment meaning a therapist manipulates muscles and other soft tissues of the body. There are a variety of massages that go from gentle stroking (also known as effleurage) and kneading of muscles and other soft tissues to a deeper more intense technique.
This is what happens while getting a massage. The therapist proceeds to massage soft tissue which transmits electrical signals to local areas of the body and also throughout the body. In the process, these signals help heal damaged muscle, improve circulation, detoxify by getting rid of waste products via the lymphatic system, boosts the immune system, reduces pain and creates a calming effect.
There is scientific evidence that shows how effective massage can be in reducing pain and improving quality of life in cancer patients, people with autism, back pain, atopic dermatitis, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), bulimia, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and arthritis. It is also very useful for lowering blood pressure.
Now let’s spend a little time discussing breast cancer. The term “breast cancer” is when there is an abnormal growth of cells which come together to form one or more tumors in the breast. Both men and women can have breast cancer but as we are all aware of it does occur more in women. Statistics show that approximately 230,000 women and 2,300 men in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Breast cancer most commonly occurs in the cells of the ducts (tubes that carry milk from the lobule to the nipple) known as ductal cancer but can also occur in the cells that line the lobules (milk-producing glands) known as lobular cancer. It can also occur in the fatty and fibrous tissues of the breast, although, this happens less frequently.
Another important fact is the main cause of breast cancer is when a mistake is made during cell division (a genetic abnormality). Abnormal cells inherited from your parents only cause 5-10% of cancers. The largest percentage 85-90% of breast cancers occurs because of the aging process (genetic abnormalities forming along the way).
Now that we have an overview of massage and breast cancer let’s check out this study.
Researchers investigated how effective massage could be on immune function and stress in women with breast cancer. They enrolled thirty women, 50 to 75 years of age with breast cancer undergoing 5 weeks of adjuvant radiation therapy.
The protocol was 15 women were to be administered massage in the form of a full-body light pressure effleurage treatment for 45 minutes, and the other 15 women – the control group – were given an equal amount of attention but no massage.
The results were the massage group experienced significant reduction in the deterioration of NK cell activity which occurs during radiation treatment while the control group did not. This translates into the massage was able to boost the women’s immune systems. The massage group also experienced decreased heart rate and blood pressure indicating they were less stressed than the control group.
These findings are great news for breast cancer patients and further studies should certainly be conducted. Massage is becoming more and more in the limelight as to how beneficial it can be with so many illnesses and let’s not forget how relaxing and absolutely wonderful it can feel!