It is a known fact that yoga is good for the mind and body, but, what if someone told you that it was good for our genes as well? In a new study, scientists have discovered that regularly practicing yoga, meditation, and other forms of mind-body interventions (or MBI), can reverse the genetic changes that increase stress levels. The research also revealed that yoga also changes the DNA to prevent people from getting Cancer.

Yoga reduces risk of cancer

Inflammation is one of the precursors of cancer and has been linked to aging and poor mental health as well.

However, per the study, regularly practicing MBI techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and Tai-Chi reduces the release of molecules which activate inflammation causing genes. Researchers from the universities of Radboud and Coventry analyzed the data from 18 studies, which were conducted over an 11-year period and included 846 participants. In all of these studies, the gene expression was analyzed after an MBI activity was performed by the participants.

Researchers discovered that after the MBI session, people produced a lesser amount of molecules which activated the inflammation genes. These molecules are generally released after a "fight-or-flight" response in humans. The study results indicate that yoga and meditation activities are not only affecting our health on the macro scale but also improving the genetic expressions of people.

These benefits of the MBI have never been recorded before, but are significant in the fight against diseases such as cancers.

Researchers said that the "fight-or-flight" response is triggered in the sympathetic nervous system when one undergoes particularly stressful conditions. This response leads to the production of NF-kB, which in turn produce molecules called cytokines.

The cytokines promote cellular inflammation and, if this condition persists over a period of time, it can cause severe damage to the physical and mental well-being of a person. Prolonged inflammation is known to cause depression, stress, and cancer. Performing yoga reduces the production of cytokines, thus decreasing the chances of suffering inflammation at all.

Why the study is important

The "fight-or-flight" response may have been an evolutionary trait which our ancient ancestors passed on to us. They were hunters and needed that response for performing day to day activities such as looking for food. However, the modern man rarely needs this type of response, and it may be adding to the stress which people already feel.

The study has given a clue to the benefits of MBI activities. However, more studies similar to this one need to be done to better understand the effects of meditation on the body and the mind. This study may act as a precursor to those later studies.