Does spirituality help in coping with cancer?


Question from Leigh W: Does spirituality/faith/religion, or whatever you want to call it, help people deal with cancer? Any research on that, or your own experience?
Answers - David Spiegel I think I haven't seen many well-conducted studies that prove the point. It is pretty clear that people who feel socially supported do better. That people who are not hopeless, helpless and despairing do better, and to the extent that faith provides you support, I would think it would be helpful. I don't think faith and religion are medical interventions. They are personal choices people make and they should be respected for that alone, rather than evidence that they add to chemotherapy. Some people find the process of prayer itself comforting and relaxing. They enter into some kind of an altered state or find a way of containing their fears and anxiety by working their concerns into a period of prayer. I think like many other things, support groups, it's helpful to have a ceremony that helps to contain your distress because you deal with the distress during that period and can turn it off for awhile and concentrate on something else.

On Wednesday, October 18, 2000, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Feelings about Breast Cancer. David Spiegel, Ph.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about the emotional effects of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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