Maintain Weight Loss with Mindfulness

Maintain Weight Loss with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Just as meditation can help us with stress, sleeping, focus, and much more, it can also have an impact on our relationship with eating and managing our weight.” – Headspace

 

Eating is produced by two categories of signals. Homeostatic signals emerge from the body’s need for nutrients, is associated with feelings of hunger, and usually work to balance intake with expenditure. Non-homeostatic eating, on the other hand, is not tied to nutrient needs or hunger but rather to the environment, to emotional states, and or to the pleasurable and rewarding qualities of food. These cues can be powerful signals to eat even when there is no physical need for food. External eating is non-homeostatic eating in response to the environmental stimuli that surround us, including the sight and smell of food or the sight of food related cause such as the time of day or a fast-food restaurant ad or sign.

 

Mindful eating involves paying attention to eating while it is occurring, including attention to the sight, smell, flavors, and textures of food, to the process of chewing and may help reduce intake. Indeed, high levels of mindfulness are associated with lower levels of obesity and mindfulness training has been shown to reduce binge eating, emotional eating, and external eating. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is a mindfulness program including meditation, body scan, yoga, discussion and home practice. So, it makes sense to examine MBSR as a part of a weight loss program.

 

In today’s Research News article “Keeping weight off: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction alters amygdala functional connectivity during weight loss maintenance in a randomized control trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7799782/ ) Chumachenko and colleagues recruited overweight adults (BMI>25) who had lost at least 5% of their body weight and wished to maintain it off. They were randomly assigned to receive 8, once a week for 1.5 hours, sessions of either a healthy living course or the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. They were measured before and after training and 6 months later for body size, perceived stress, depression, and eating disinhibition. Before and after training they also had their brains scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).

 

They found that after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training there was a significant increase in the connectivity between the Amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex while this was decreased after completing the healthy living course. Over the 6-month follow-up period the MBSR participants did not gain weight while the healthy living course participants gained on average 5.9 pounds.

 

These results are interesting and important. There are many dietary programs that produce weight loss. But almost inevitably the weight is regained subsequently. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training was found here to prevent that weight gain. Hence, MBSR may be an important ingredient in weight loss to help maintain the loss. The results also suggest that MBSR may alter the brain, increasing the functional connectivity in brain circuits that are thought to underlie emotion regulation. This fits with the prior findings that mindfulness training improves emotion regulation. This suggests that MBSR may prevent non-homeostatic, emotional, eating by strengthening emotion regulation and thereby prevent weight regain.

 

So, maintain weight loss with mindfulness.

 

By itself, mindful eating is not a weight-loss cure, but as part of an approach or tool it can catapult healthy eating and weight loss,” – Josh Klapow

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chumachenko, S. Y., Cali, R. J., Rosal, M. C., Allison, J. J., Person, S. J., Ziedonis, D., Nephew, B. C., Moore, C. M., Zhang, N., King, J. A., & Fulwiler, C. (2021). Keeping weight off: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction alters amygdala functional connectivity during weight loss maintenance in a randomized control trial. PloS one, 16(1), e0244847. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244847

 

Abstract

Obesity is associated with significant comorbidities and financial costs. While behavioral interventions produce clinically meaningful weight loss, weight loss maintenance is challenging. The objective was to improve understanding of the neural and psychological mechanisms modified by mindfulness that may predict clinical outcomes. Individuals who intentionally recently lost weight were randomized to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or a control healthy living course. Anthropometric and psychological factors were measured at baseline, 8 weeks and 6 months. Functional connectivity (FC) analysis was performed at baseline and 8 weeks to examine FC changes between regions of interest selected a priori, and independent components identified by independent component analysis. The association of pre-post FC changes with 6-month weight and psychometric outcomes was then analyzed. Significant group x time interaction was found for FC between the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, such that FC increased in the MBSR group and decreased in controls. Non-significant changes in weight were observed at 6 months, where the mindfulness group maintained their weight while the controls showed a weight increase of 3.4% in BMI. Change in FC at 8-weeks between ventromedial prefrontal cortex and several ROIs was associated with change in depression symptoms but not weight at 6 months. This pilot study provides preliminary evidence of neural mechanisms that may be involved in MBSR’s impact on weight loss maintenance that may be useful for designing future clinical trials and mechanistic studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7799782/

 

Reduce Risky Driving with Mindfulness

Reduce Risky Driving with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Distraction mitigation techniques like mindfulness are looming as essential to save lives on our roads especially among young drivers who have high rates of addiction to technology, and who overestimate their ability to multitask and underestimate the dangers of driver distraction.” – Kristie Young

 

Driving is one of the riskiest behaviors that we engage in even though we believe it to be safe. Nearly 17,000 people in the U.S. die in automobile accidents each year. Beyond the inherent danger of driving, risk is markedly increased by risky decisions while driving. These include speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, impulsive or aggressive driving, and emotional driving. Mindfulness may be helpful as mindfulness increases attention and emotion regulation and decreases impulsivity and aggression. But there has been little research on the effectiveness of mindfulness training in reducing risky driving.

 

In today’s Research News article “Repeat Traffic Offenders Improve Their Performance in Risky Driving Situations and Have Fewer Accidents Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567278/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1547234_69_Psycho_20210204_arts_A ) Baltruschat and colleagues recruited online adult drivers and obtained self-report records of traffic violations. They identified repeat offenders as drivers who reported multiple instances of risky driving and randomly separated them into a mindfulness and control groups. The mindfulness group met for 3 hours once a week for 5 weeks and received mindfulness training modelled after the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. All participants were measured before and after training for emotion regulation, cognitive emotion regulation, and risky driving behavior in a driving simulator when confronted with high-risk scenarios.

 

They found that after training the mindfulness trained repeat offenders had significantly better driving performance in the simulator and fewer simulated accidents resulting from high-risk simulation scenarios than either the non-trained repeat offenders or non-repeat offenders. There were no significant differences found in emotion regulation.

 

These are interesting results. But it must be recognized that the driving simulator is an artificial environment and the risk scenarios did not involve real risk. So, it is not clear that the present results predict driving behavior in the real world. There are a number of possible explanations for the improvement in driving behavior produced by mindfulness training. The lack of significant effects on emotion regulation in the present study was surprising but may indicate that improvement in the individual’s ability to work with their emotions is not how mindfulness improves driving. It remains for future research to investigate other possible mechanisms such as impulsivity, aggression, or attentional effects.

 

Regardless, mindfulness training appears to reduce risk taking behavior and may produce better drivers. Such training, incorporated into traditional driver training courses, may reduce accident rates and deaths on the roads. Future research should investigate this possibility.

 

So, reduce risky driving with mindfulness.

 

individuals who engage in mindfulness are less likely to text and drive; a crucial statistic seeing as the National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving kills more than 3,000 people each year.” – SBG-TV

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Baltruschat S, Mas-Cuesta L, Cándido A, Maldonado A, Verdejo-Lucas C, Catena-Verdejo E and Catena A (2021) Repeat Traffic Offenders Improve Their Performance in Risky Driving Situations and Have Fewer Accidents Following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention. Front. Psychol. 11:567278. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567278

 

ABSTRACT

Risky decision-making is highly influenced by emotions and can lead to fatal consequences. Attempts to reduce risk-taking include the use of mindfulness-based interventions (MBI), which have shown promising results for both emotion regulation (ER) and risk-taking. However, it is still unclear whether improved emotion regulation is the mechanism responsible for reduced risk-taking. In the present study, we explore the effect of a 5-week MBI on risky driving in a group of repeat traffic offenders by comparing them with non-repeat offenders and repeat offenders without training. We evaluated the driving behavior of the participants through a driving simulation, and self-reported emotion regulation, both before and after the intervention. At baseline, poor emotion regulation was related to a more unstable driving behavior, and speeding. The group that received mindfulness training showed improved performance during risky driving situations and had fewer accidents, although their overall driving behavior remained largely unchanged. The observed trend toward improved emotion regulation was not significant. We discuss whether other effects of MBI – such as self-regulation of attention – could underlie the observed reduction in risky driving in the initial stages. Nonetheless, our findings still confirm the close relationship between emotion regulation skills and risky driving.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567278/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1547234_69_Psycho_20210204_arts_A

 

Further Improve Health Care Professionals’ Mental Health with Supplemental Mindfulness Training

Further Improve Health Care Professionals’ Mental Health with Supplemental Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The therapeutic applications of mindfulness are considerable and its impact on clinical practice itself appears to be profound. Indeed, several commentators characterize mindfulness as inciting nothing short of a revolution in the way we conduct our mental lives both within the clinic and without.” – Matias P. Raski

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system.

 

Preventing the negative psychological consequences of stress in healthcare professionals has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Once mindfulness has been established it is not known if additional mindfulness training will produce greater benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Interpersonal Mindfulness Program for Health Care Professionals: a Feasibility Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7447696/ ) Bartels-Velthui and colleagues recruited health care professionals who had already received mindfulness training with either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  The participants in the training group were further treated with an Interpersonal Mindfulness Course. This course was designed for participants who had already received mindfulness training to deepen mindful presence, empathy and compassion with other people. The course met for 9-weekly, 2.5-hour sessions combined with 45 to 60 minutes of daily home practice. All participants were measured before and after training for the feasibility and acceptability of the program, mindfulness, self-compassion, empathy, stress, and quality of life.

 

They found that the program was feasible as all participants completed the program and acceptable as 88% report the program to be highly relevant and would recommend it to others. They found that compared to baseline and the control group the participants who received the additional mindfulness training had significant improvements in self-compassion, empathy and compassion fatigue.

 

These are very interesting findings in that health care professionals who had already received mindfulness training had further increases in self-compassion, empathy and compassion fatigue when provided a program designed to improve mindfulness with other people. It is well known that mindfulness training improves self-compassion, empathy and compassion fatigue. These findings, though, suggests that these improvements can be strengthened with further training. In addition, the improvements were in characteristics that would tend to reduce health care professional burnout. The fact that the program emphasized being mindful of other people suggests that the health care workers would be have more empathy and understanding in treating their patients.

 

So, further improve health care professionals’ mental health with supplemental mindfulness training.

 

mindfulness can result in decreased burnout and improved well-being. Mindfulness is a useful way of cultivating self-kindness and compassion, including by bringing increased awareness to and acceptance of those things that are beyond our control.” – Kate Fitzpatrick

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Bartels-Velthuis, A. A., van den Brink, E., Koster, F., & Hoenders, H. (2020). The Interpersonal Mindfulness Program for Health Care Professionals: a Feasibility Study. Mindfulness, 1–10. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01477-5

 

Abstract

Objectives

There are a number of mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) that have demonstrated effectiveness for patients and health care professionals. The Interpersonal Mindfulness Program (IMP) is a relatively new MBP, developed to teach those with prior mindfulness training to deepen their mindful presence, empathy and compassion in the interpersonal domain. The aim of the present study was to examine the feasibility of using the IMP with mental health care workers and assessing its effects on levels of mindfulness, self-compassion, empathy, stress and professional quality of life when compared with the control group participants.

Methods

The IMP training consisted of nine weekly 2.5-h sessions and daily home practice (45–60 min). Twenty-five participants (mean age, 51.4 years) with mindfulness experience participated in the training. Twenty-two individuals in the control group (mean age, 47.5 years) were recruited from those who had followed a mindfulness training before. Feasibility of the IMP was assessed in the training participants in six domains. All study participants completed self-report questionnaires before and after the training.

Results

The IMP training was considered highly acceptable and very useful. The training had a significant positive effect on self-compassion, empathy and compassion fatigue, but no effect on mindfulness, stress and compassion satisfaction. Five participants reported some mild adverse reactions.

Conclusions

The IMP training appears feasible for health care professionals and seems to induce some positive effects. A few mild adverse effects were reported. Further research on the effectiveness and possible mechanisms of change of the IMP training in larger samples is needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7447696/

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Breast Cancer Survivors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is a good resource for dealing with the physical and psychological symptoms of metastatic disease. Women who were more mindful tended to have lower symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, including pain severity and interference, fatigue, psychological distress, and sleep disturbance.” – Lauren Zimmaro

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is a mindfulness training program that includes meditation practice, body scan, yoga, and discussion along with daily home practice. MBSR has been shown to be beneficial for cancer patients in general and also specifically for the symptoms of breast cancer survivors. So, it makes sense to further explore the effectiveness of MBSR training for the treatment of breast cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Post-treatment Breast Cancer Patients: Immediate and Sustained Effects Across Multiple Symptom Clusters.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7771358/ ) Reich and colleagues recruited breast cancer survivors and randomly assigned them to either usual care or to receive a 6-week, once a week for 2-hours, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) modified for breast cancer survivors. They were measured before and after training and 6 weeks later for worry, fear of cancer recurrence, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, mindfulness, symptom severity, sleep quality, fatigue, pain, cognition, and health-related quality of life.

 

They found with factor analysis that the measures fit into 4 clusters; pain, cognition, fatigue, and psychological. They found that in comparison to baseline the usual care, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced significant improvement in the psychological and fatigue clusters, but not the cognitive or pain clusters. These effects were still present 6 weeks later.

 

These findings suggest that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an effective treatment to relieve the psychological and fatigue symptoms of breast cancer survivors. This corresponds with prior findings that mindfulness improves the symptoms of breast cancer survivors and reduces anxiety, depression, and perceived stress, and improves emotional well-being and also reduces fatigue and improves sleep quality.

 

The observed improvements produced by Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) markedly improves the quality of life and reduces the suffering of these cancer patients. These are clinically significant. It has been shown that an improved psychological outlook is associated with better physical recovery. Hence, these findings suggest that MBSR or other mindfulness training programs, should be incorporated into the routine care of breast cancer survivors.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of breast cancer survivors with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is a state of mind which we can all acquire and use to support our wellbeing physically, emotionally and mentally. . .  Having cancer, or specifically breast cancer, is no exception. Our cancer experiences take up a lot of energies, mental focus and can drain us emotionally. It is important to have a few tools to help us create ‘down’ and ‘out’ times, and to replenish and reconnect with who we are.“ – Breast Cancer Now

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Reich, R. R., Lengacher, C. A., Alinat, C. B., Kip, K. E., Paterson, C., Ramesar, S., Han, H. S., Ismail-Khan, R., Johnson-Mallard, V., Moscoso, M., Budhrani-Shani, P., Shivers, S., Cox, C. E., Goodman, M., & Park, J. (2017). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Post-treatment Breast Cancer Patients: Immediate and Sustained Effects Across Multiple Symptom Clusters. Journal of pain and symptom management, 53(1), 85–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2016.08.005

 

Abstract

Context.

Breast cancer survivors (BCS) face adverse physical and psychological symptoms, often co-occurring. Biologic and psychological factors may link symptoms within clusters, distinguishable by prevalence and/or severity. Few studies have examined the effects of behavioral interventions or treatment of symptom clusters.

Objectives.

The aim of this study was to identify symptom clusters among post-treatment BCS and determine symptom cluster improvement following the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Breast Cancer (MBSR(BC)) program.

Methods.

Three hundred twenty-two Stage 0–III post-treatment BCS were randomly assigned to either a six-week MBSR(BC) program or usual care. Psychological (depression, anxiety, stress, and fear of recurrence), physical (fatigue, pain, sleep, and drowsiness), and cognitive symptoms and quality of life were assessed at baseline, six, and 12 weeks, along with demographic and clinical history data at baseline. A three-step analytic process included the error-accounting models offactor analysis and structural equation modeling.

Results.

Four symptom clusters emerged at baseline: pain, psychological, fatigue, and cognitive. From baseline to six weeks, the model demonstrated evidence of MBSR(BC) effectiveness in both the psychological (anxiety, depression, perceived stress and QOL, emotional well-being) (P = 0.007) and fatigue (fatigue, sleep, and drowsiness) (P < 0.001) clusters. Results between six and 12 weeks showed sustained effects, but further improvement was not observed.

Conclusion.

Our results provide clinical effectiveness evidence that MBSR(BC) works to improve symptom clusters, particularly for psychological and fatigue symptom clusters, with the greatest improvement occurring during the six-week program with sustained effects for several weeks after MBSR(BC) training.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7771358/

 

Improve Obese Individuals’ Ability to Respond Adaptively to Stressors with Mindfulness

Improve Obese Individuals’ Ability to Respond Adaptively to Stressors with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“patients with obesity do better at reducing stress with mindfulness exercises.” – Sharon Basaraba

 

Obesity has become an epidemic in the industrialized world. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity, defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population, while two thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese (BMI > 25). Obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. This occurs because obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others.

 

Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to obese individuals. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesityalter eating behavior and improve health in obesity. Stress responses are blunted and variable in obese individuals. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve the individuals physiological and psychological responses to stress. One of the ways that mindfulness may be effective for obese individuals is by improving their adaptive responses to stress.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness-Based Weight Loss Intervention on Cardiovascular Reactivity to Social-Evaluative Threat Among Adults with Obesity.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7138245/ ) Daubenmeir and colleagues recruited adults with abdominal obesity (BMI>30) and provided them with a 12-week program of diet and exercise. Half were randomly assigned to also receive mindfulness training similar to the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. In previously reported results, the mindfulness training produced greater improvements in metabolism but non-significant improvements in body weight.

 

In the present study they report the results of studies of the obese participants stress responsivity. They were measured before and after the 12-week diet and exercise training with a social stress test that involved giving a speech and verbally doing math problems while being evaluated by strangers. In addition, cardiovascular factors were measured including the electrocardiogram (EKG), blood pressure and cardiac impedance.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the control condition, the mindfulness trained participants reported that the social stress tasks was a significantly greater positive challenge and produced significantly less anxiety. They also found that the mindfulness group had significantly greater cardiac output and significantly lower total peripheral resistance while the control group had a significant increase in total peripheral resistance.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training increases the obese individual’s ability to adapt psychologically and physiologically to stress. That mindfulness reduces anxiety and improves adaptation to stress has been previously reported using different evaluation techniques and different participant populations. The present study extends these findings by demonstrating that mindfulness has similar benefits for the obese. Since stress reactivity can be a particular problem for the obese, the improved adaptive responses to stress after mindfulness training may be especially helpful for these individuals.

 

So, improve obese individuals’ ability to respond adaptively to stressors with mindfulness.

 

restricted diets may in fact increase anxiety in obese children. However, practicing mindfulness, as well dieting, may counteract this and promote more efficient weight loss,” – Mardia López-Alarcón

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Daubenmier, J., Epel, E. S., Moran, P. J., Thompson, J., Mason, A. E., Acree, M., Goldman, V., Kristeller, J., Hecht, F. M., & Mendes, W. B. (2019). A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Mindfulness-Based Weight Loss Intervention on Cardiovascular Reactivity to Social-Evaluative Threat Among Adults with Obesity. Mindfulness, 10(12), 2583–2595. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01232-5

 

Objective:

Mindfulness-based interventions have been found to reduce psychological and physiological stress reactivity. In obesity, however, stress reactivity is complex, with studies showing both exaggerated and blunted physiological responses to stressors. A nuanced view of stress reactivity is the “challenge and threat” framework, which defines adaptive and maladaptive patterns of psychophysiological stress reactivity. We hypothesized that mindfulness training would facilitate increased challenge-related appraisals, emotions, and cardiovascular reactivity, including sympathetic nervous system activation paired with increased cardiac output (CO) and reduced total peripheral resistance (TPR) compared to a control group, which would exhibit an increased threat pattern of psychophysiological reactivity to repeated stressors.

Methods:

Adults (N=194) with obesity were randomized to a 5.5-month mindfulness-based weight loss intervention or an active control condition with identical diet-exercise guidelines. Participants were assessed at baseline and 4.5 months later using the Trier Social Stress Task. Electrocardiogram, impedance cardiography, and blood pressure were acquired at rest and during the speech and verbal arithmetic tasks to assess pre-ejection period (PEP), CO, and TPR reactivity.

Results:

Mindfulness participants showed significantly greater maintenance of challenge-related emotions and cardiovascular reactivity patterns (higher CO and lower TPR) from pre to post-intervention compared to control participants, but groups did not differ in PEP. Findings were independent of changes in body mass index.

Conclusions:

Mindfulness training may increase the ability to maintain a positive outlook and mount adaptive cardiovascular responses to repeated stressors among persons with obesity though findings need to be replicated in other populations and using other forms of mindfulness interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7138245/

 

Improve Chronic Low Back Pain with Mindfulness

Improve Chronic Low Back Pain with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy often work better than pain meds and other medical treatments for chronic back pain.” – Nancy Shute

 

Low Back Pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects between 6% to 15% of the population. It is estimated, however, that 80% of the population will experience back pain sometime during their lives. There are varied treatments for low back pain including chiropractic care, acupuncture, biofeedback, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, massage, surgery, opiate pain killing drugs, steroid injections, and muscle relaxant drugs. These therapies are sometimes effective particularly for acute back pain. But, for chronic conditions the treatments are less effective and often require continuing treatment for years and opiate pain killers are dangerous and can lead to abuse, addiction, and fatal overdoses.

 

Obviously, there is a need for safe and effective treatments for low back pain that are low cost and don’t have troublesome side effects. Mindfulness practices are effective in treating pain and have been shown to be safe and effective in the management of low back pain. The research has been accumulating and it is useful to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Systematic Review of Mindfulness Practices for Improving Outcomes in Chronic Low Back Pain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7735497/ ) Smith and Langen review, and summarize the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for the relief of chronic low back pain. MBSR is generally delivered as an 8-week program including training in meditation, body scan, and yoga along with group discussion and daily home practice.

 

They identified 12 published research studies. They report that the published studies found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) significantly reduced pain severity and improved the quality of life of patients with chronic low back pain. These improvements were still present at long-term follow-up. Hence, mindfulness training appears to a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of chronic low back pain.

 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a complex of different practices. It is not known which of the components or which combination of components is necessary and sufficient to produce the pain reductions and quality of life improvement. But meditation practice by itself has been shown to reduce perceived pain and quality of life and yoga practice alone has also been shown to reduce perceived pain and quality of life. So, all of the components may be effective. It is not known, however, if their effects are additive so that the combination of practices produces greater benefits than the individual practices alone. This remains for future research to investigate.

 

So, improve chronic low back pain with mindfulness.

 

meditation may help change the individual’s relationship to pain and other experiences, rather than focusing on changing the content of the experience itself (which, of note, may not be possible), and has the potential to uncouple the physical experience of pain from pain-related suffering.” –  Aleksandra Zgierska

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Smith, S. L., & Langen, W. H. (2020). A Systematic Review of Mindfulness Practices for Improving Outcomes in Chronic Low Back Pain. International journal of yoga, 13(3), 177–182. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_4_20

 

Abstract

Background:

Chronic pain is a serious public health problem that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques offer an accessible treatment modality for chronic pain patients that may complement or replace pharmacological treatment. This article reviews the literature on the efficacy of MBSR training in patients with back chronic pain syndromes for the outcomes of pain measures, quality of life (QOL), mental health, and mindfulness.

Methods:

A systemized search was conducted in September of 2018 for studies published between 2008 and 2018 on mindfulness and chronic low back pain. Out of 50 articles on mindfulness and chronic pain, 12 empirical studies were selected for the inclusion in this review.

Results:

Subjective pain scores and QOL improved for chronic pain patients after mindfulness interventions, compared to control groups, in most of the studies reviewed. Limitations of the studies reviewed included the varied pain measurement instruments, the small sample sizes, and the inability to blind participants to MBSR intervention.

Conclusions:

MBSR interventions show significant improvements in chronic pain patients for pain measures, QOL, and mental health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7735497/

 

Poor Mental Health in Patients with Fibromyalgia is Associated with Brain Systems

Poor Mental Health in Patients with Fibromyalgia is Associated with Brain Systems

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

practicing mindfulness techniques may be a low-cost, side effect free option for people wishing to reduce the severity of their fibromyalgia.” – Kim Jones

 

Fibromyalgia is a mysterious disorder whose causes are unknown. It is very common affecting over 5 million people in the U.S., about 2% of the population with about 7 times more women affected than men. It is characterized by widespread pain, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbance, and fatigue that lead to psychological distress. Fibromyalgia may also have morning stiffness, tingling or numbness in hands and feet, headaches, including migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disturbances, thinking and memory problems, and painful menstrual periods. The symptoms are so severe and debilitating that about half the patients are unable to perform routine daily functions and about a third have to stop work. Although it is not itself fatal, suicide rates are higher in fibromyalgia sufferers. Clearly, fibromyalgia greatly reduces the quality of life of its’ sufferers.

 

There are no completely effective treatments for fibromyalgia. Symptoms are generally treated with pain relievers, antidepressant drugs and exercise. But these only reduce the severity of the symptoms and do not treat the disease directly. Mindfulness practices have also been shown to be effective in reducing pain from fibromyalgia. Some of the effects of mindfulness practices are to alter thought processes, changing what is thought about. In terms of pain, mindfulness training, by focusing attention on the present moment has been shown to reduce worry and catastrophizing. Pain is increased by worry about the pain and the expectation of greater pain in the future. Brain systems are involved in pain processing. It is not known, however, what brain systems may be involved in the psychological effects of fibromyalgia.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis as a Brain Correlate of Psychological Inflexibility in Fibromyalgia.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7074535/ ) Feliu-Soler and colleagues recruited adult women who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia and assigned them to either treatment as usual or to receive and 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). They were measured before and after the program for psychological inflexibility in pain, functional impairment, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, pain catastrophizing, mindfulness, and self-compassion. They also underwent measurements of the gray matter volume in the brain with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

 

They found that the higher the levels of psychological inflexibility in pain, the higher the gray matter volume of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). Further they found that the higher the gray matter volume of the BNST the higher the levels of functional impairment, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and pain catastrophizing and the lower the levels of mindfulness and self-compassion. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program did not significantly alter the BNST volume or psychological inflexibility in pain.

 

These results are correlative and as such caution must be exercised in causal inferences. It was disappointing that mindfulness training did not produce a change in either psychological inflexibility or BNST volume. But the results are clear that the gray matter volume of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) is associated with poor mental health in patients with fibromyalgia. This brain structure is associated with physiological and psychological responses to stress. Since, the constant pain associated with fibromyalgia is very stressful it is not surprising that enlargement of the BNST would be associated with poor mental health in these patients.

 

So, poor mental health in patients with fibromyalgia is associated with brain systems.

 

being overly observant of symptoms or trying to avoid pain can actually contribute towards the development of fibromyalgia and worsen the existing symptoms. Mindfulness practice can actually change the way you relate to your pain, . . the mindfulness group showed less avoidant and hypervigilance behaviour, supporting the idea that mindfulness encourages a non-judgemental and accepting relationship with pain, rather than trying to push it away.” – Vidyamala Burch

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Feliu-Soler, A., Martínez-Zalacaín, I., Pérez-Aranda, A., Borràs, X., Andrés-Rodríguez, L., Sanabria-Mazo, J. P., Fayed, N., Stephan-Otto, C., Núñez, C., Soriano-Mas, C., & Luciano, J. V. (2020). The Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis as a Brain Correlate of Psychological Inflexibility in Fibromyalgia. Journal of clinical medicine, 9(2), 374. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9020374

 

Abstract

This study explored the brain structural correlates of psychological flexibility (PF) as measured with the Psychological Inflexibility in Pain Scale (PIPS) in patients with fibromyalgia (FM). Structural magnetic resonance imaging data from 47 FM patients were used to identify Gray Matter Volume (GMV) alterations related to PIPS scores. Brain GMV clusters related to PIPS were then correlated with clinical and cognitive variables to further explore how emerged brain clusters were intertwined with FM symptomatology. Longitudinal changes in PIPS-related brain clusters values were assessed by studying pre–post data from 30 patients (15 allocated to a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program and 15 to treatment-as-usual). Changes in PIPS-related brain clusters were also explored in participants showing greater/lower longitudinal changes in PIPS scores. PIPS scores were positively associated with GMV in a bilateral cluster in the ventral part of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). Significant associations between BNST cluster with functional impairment, depressive symptomatology, perceived stress and the nonjudging mindfulness facet were observed. Participants reporting greater pre–post increases in PIPS scores showed greater increases in BNST cluster values. These findings contribute to the understanding on the neurobiological bases of PF in FM and encourage further explorations of the role of the BNST in chronic pain.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7074535/

 

Improve Mood in Patients with HIV with Mindfulness

Improve Mood in Patients with HIV with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Given the stress-reduction benefits of mindfulness meditation training. . . there can be health protective effects not just in people with HIV but in folks who suffer from daily stress,” – David Creswell

 

More than 35 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. These include a significant number of children and adolescents. In 1996, the advent of the protease inhibitor and the so-called cocktail changed the prognosis for HIV. Since this development a 20-year-old infected with HIV can now expect to live on average to age 69. Hence, living with HIV is a long-term reality for a very large group of people.

 

People living with HIV infection experience a wide array of physical and psychological symptoms which decrease their perceived quality of life. The symptoms include chronic pain, muscle aches, anxiety, depression, weakness, fear/worries, difficulty with concentration, concerns regarding the need to interact with a complex healthcare system, stigma, and the challenge to come to terms with a new identity as someone living with HIV. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve psychological well-being, lower depression and strengthen the immune system of patients with HIV infection.

 

In today’s Research News article “). A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction in HIV infection.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7656978/ ) Hecht and colleagues recruited adult patients with HIV who were not on antiretroviral therapy and randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or education on managing HIV. The MBSR program met once a week for 2.5 hours and included meditation, body scan, and yoga practice, daily home practice, and discussion. HIV management education met once a week for 1,5 hours. The participants were measured before and after training and 3 and 9 months later for depression, positive and negative emotions, perceived stress, and mindfulness. In addition, blood was drawn and assayed for CD-4+ T cell counts, viral load, and the inflammatory markers of C-reactive protein, D-dimer, and Interleukin 6.

 

They found that both groups decreased in CD-4+ T cell counts over the 12 months of the study with no change in viral load or the inflammatory markers. The group that received Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) had significant reductions in depression and perceived stress and increases in positive emotions 3 months but not 12 months after training. There were no significant improvements in the HIV education group. Mindfulness increased significantly in the MBSR group and was sustained at the 9 month follow-up.

 

The lack of effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on CD4+ T-cell counts and viral load in comparison to HIV education were disappointing. Previous studies had found that mindfulness training improved these measures. The authors attributed this to their having a more active control condition than previous studies. As a result, they cautioned against making inferences about mindfulness training effectiveness without an equivalent active control condition.

 

On the other hand, the study found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produced improvements in the psychological state of the patients which lasted for 3 months after the conclusion of training but tended to wane thereafter. These results are not surprising as improvements in depression, positive emotions, and perceived stress as a result of mindfulness training have been routinely reported in prior research. Hence, mindfulness training appears to improve the mood but not the HIV infection or inflammatory responses of HIV patients.

 

So, improve mood in patients with HIV with mindfulness.

 

“The results also support a role for MBSR in enhancing problem solving, life-satisfaction, and emotional regulation in youth with HIV-infection.” – AMRA

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hecht, F. M., Moskowitz, J. T., Moran, P., Epel, E. S., Bacchetti, P., Acree, M., Kemeny, M. E., Mendes, W. B., Duncan, L. G., Weng, H., Levy, J. A., Deeks, S. G., & Folkman, S. (2018). A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction in HIV infection. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 73, 331–339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2018.05.017

 

Abstract

Objective:

Evidence links depression and stress to more rapid progression of HIV-1 disease. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to test whether an intervention aimed at improving stress management and emotion regulation, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), would improve immunological (i.e. CD4+ t-cell counts) and psychological outcomes in persons with HIV-1 infection.

Methods:

We randomly assigned participants with HIV-1 infection and CD4 T-cell counts > 350 cells/μl who were not on antiretroviral therapy in a 1:1 ratio to either an MBSR group (n=89) or an HIV disease self-management skills group (n=88). The study was conducted at the University of California at San Francisco. We assessed immunologic (CD4, c-reactive protein, IL-6, and d-dimer) and psychological measures (Beck Depression Inventory for depression, modified Differential Emotions Scale for positive and negative affect, Perceived stress-scale, and mindfulness) at 3, 6 and 12 months after initiation of the intervention; we used multiple imputation to address missing values.

Results:

We observed statistically significant improvements from baseline to 3-months within the MBSR group in depression, positive and negative affect, perceived stress, and mindfulness; between group differences in change were significantly greater in the MBSR group only for positive affect (per item difference on DES-positive 0.25, 95% CI 0.049, 0.44, p = .015). By 12 months the between group difference in positive affect was not statistically significant, although both groups had trends toward improvements compared to baseline in several psychological outcomes that were maintained at 12-months; these improvements were only statistically significant for depression and negative affect in the MBSR group and perceived stress for the control group. The groups did not differ significantly on rates of antiretroviral therapy initiation (MBSR = 39%, control = 29%, p = .22). After 12 months, the mean decrease in CD4+ T-cell count was 49.6 cells/μl in participants in the MBSR arm, compared to 54.2 cells/μl in the control group, a difference of 4.6 cells favoring the MBSR group (95% CI, −44.6, 53.7, p=.85). The between group differences in other immunologic-related outcomes (c-reactive protein, IL-6, HIV-1 viral load, and d-dimer) were not statistically significant at any time point.

Conclusions:

MBSR improved positive affect more than an active control arm in the 3 months following the start of the intervention. However, this difference was not maintained over the 12-month follow-up and there were no significant differences in immunologic outcomes between intervention groups. These results emphasize the need for further carefully designed research if we are to translate evidence linking psychological states to immunological outcomes into evidence-based clinical practices.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7656978/

 

Change the Brain to Reduce Anxiety with Mindfulness

Change the Brain to Reduce Anxiety with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness can enhance our ability to remember this new, less-fearful reaction, and break the anxiety habit.” It’s a tool that interrupts those old, fear-inducing memories, and creates new, less threatening associations in the mind.” – Nate Klemp

 

Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. There are a number of ways that meditation practices produce these benefits, including changes to the brain and physiology.  The nervous system is a dynamic entity, constantly changing and adapting to the environment. It will change size, activity, and connectivity in response to experience. These changes in the brain are called neuroplasticity. Over the last decade neuroscience has been studying the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and has identified neuroplastic changes in widespread areas. In other words, meditation practice appears to mold and change the brain, producing psychological, physical, and spiritual benefits.

 

In today’s Research News article “). Hippocampal circuits underlie improvements in self-reported anxiety following mindfulness training.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7507558/ ) Sevinc and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to receive weekly 2-hour sessions of either stress management education or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) along with 40-minutes of daily home practice. The stress management education consisted of discussion of sources of stress and light exercise. MBSR consisted of discussion, meditation, body scan, and yoga practices. They were measured before and after training for perceived stress, mindfulness, and anxiety.

 

All participants underwent classical fear conditioning with 2 different light colors presented just prior to an irritating shock to the finger and a third color light not followed by shock. The conditioning was then extinguished for one light color but not the other by repeated presentations of the light without shock. After training the participants underwent brain scanning focused on the subfields of the hippocampus with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). The size of the hippocampal subfields was measured along with the connectivity between the hippocampus and other brain areas while the participants were shown the different colored lights used in the fear conditioning.

 

They found that after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) there was an increase in the volume of the hippocampal subfield of the subiculum. They also found a decrease in the connectivity of the hippocampus with the occipital cortex during presentation of the extinguished fear conditioning lights. In addition, they found that the greater the increase in volume of the subiculum, the greater the decrease in anxiety levels after MBSR.

 

The subiculum has been implicated in memory consolidation and retrieval. So, the increased volume detected after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) suggests that MBSR improves the memory process. Indeed, mindfulness training has previously been shown to improve memory processes.  The decrease in hippocampal connectivity during extinction recall after MBSR training suggests that the individual may be better able to ignore previously associated fear stimuli. This could well underlie a reduction in anxiety by not responding to fear stimuli that are no longer associated with frightening circumstances. This may be a mechanism that, at least in part, underlies the ability of mindfulness training to improve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Regardless, the results suggest that mindfulness training alters the brain in such a way to reduce anxiety.

 

So, change the brain to reduce anxiety with mindfulness.

 

“In mindfulness practice . . . you have an opportunity—the mental time and space, if you will—to see more elements of the story, a richer picture. “You may see more clearly as you anticipate a difficult encounter what the underlying emotion is that’s triggered and how it’s showing up in your body.” – Barry Boyce

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Sevinc, G., Greenberg, J., Hölzel, B. K., Gard, T., Calahan, T., Brunsch, V., Hashmi, J. A., Vangel, M., Orr, S. P., Milad, M. R., & Lazar, S. W. (2020). Hippocampal circuits underlie improvements in self-reported anxiety following mindfulness training. Brain and behavior, 10(9), e01766. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1766

 

Abstract

Introduction

Mindfulness meditation has successfully been applied to cultivate skills in self‐regulation of emotion, as it employs the unbiased present moment awareness of experience. This heightened attention to and awareness of sensory experience has been postulated to create an optimal therapeutic exposure condition and thereby improve extinction learning. We recently demonstrated increased connectivity in hippocampal circuits during the contextual retrieval of extinction memory following mindfulness training.

Methods

Here, we examine the role of structural changes in hippocampal subfields following mindfulness training in a randomized controlled longitudinal study using a two‐day fear‐conditioning and extinction protocol.

Results

We demonstrate an association between mindfulness training‐related increases in subiculum and decreased hippocampal connectivity to lateral occipital regions during contextual retrieval of extinguished fear. Further, we demonstrate an association between decreased connectivity and decreases in self‐reported anxiety following mindfulness training.

Conclusions

The results highlight the role of the subiculum in gating interactions with contextual stimuli during memory retrieval and, also, the mechanisms through which mindfulness training may foster resilience.

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation has successfully been applied to cultivate skills in self‐regulation of emotion, as it employs the unbiased present moment awareness of experience. This heightened attention to and awareness of sensory experience has been postulated to create an optimal therapeutic exposure condition and thereby improve extinction learning. Here, we examine the role of structural changes in hippocampal subfields and further demonstrate an association between mindfulness training‐related increases in subiculum and decreased hippocampal connectivity to lateral occipital regions during contextual retrieval of extinguished fear. Further, we demonstrate an association between decreased connectivity and decreases in self‐reported anxiety following mindfulness training. These results highlight the role of the subiculum in gating interactions with contextual stimuli during memory retrieval and, also, the mechanisms through which mindfulness training fosters resilience.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7507558/

 

Mindfulness Improves Breast Cancer Symptoms in Women with Particular Genetic Polymorphisms

Mindfulness Improves Breast Cancer Symptoms in Women with Particular Genetic Polymorphisms

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based stress reduction can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical side effects of treatments and improving the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients.” – BCRF

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to relieve chronic pain. It can also help treat the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stresssleep disturbancefear of reoccurrence, and anxiety and depression. The genes are known to be highly involved in the development of cancer and mindfulness training has been shown to alter the genes. The genes differ considerably between different individuals. It is possible that mindfulness training may improve cancer symptoms in patients with particular genetic polymorphisms. Identifying these polymorphisms could then help in identifying patients who would respond best to mindfulness training.

 

In today’s Research News article “Translational genomic research: the role of genetic polymorphisms in MBSR program among breast cancer survivors (MBSR[BC]).” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7184864/ ) Park and colleagues recruited adult women who were at least 2 weeks since the end of treatment for breast cancer and randomly assigned them to a usual care wait-list control condition or to receive 6 weekly 2-hour sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The program consists of discussion, meditation practice, body scan, and yoga along with daily home practice. They were measured before and after training and 6 weeks later for anxiety, depression, perceived stress, fatigue, pain, and quality of life.

 

At baseline blood was drawn for genetic analysis. They assayed the blood for 10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that had been shown in the past to be associated with the symptoms of women recovering from breast cancer. They found that 3 SNPs, rs4680 in COMT, rs6314 in HTR2A, and rs429358 in APOE were associated with improvements in symptoms produced by the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The symptom improvements associated with these SNPs were depression, fatigue, pain, and quality of life.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve the residual symptoms present in women recovering from breast cancer. The present results suggest that the effectiveness of mindfulness training in improving these symptoms is different for women with different genetic profiles. These findings may prove useful in tailoring treatment for the women to maximize its impact. Women with single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), rs4680 in COMT, rs6314 in HTR2A, and rs429358 in APOE would be good candidates for treatment with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Women without these SNPs may be better treated with other treatments.

 

So, mindfulness improves breast cancer symptoms in women with particular genetic polymorphisms.

 

When used in a cancer setting, mindfulness can help patients cope with their disease and its treatment.” – Carrie Ernhout

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Park, J. Y., Lengacher, C. A., Reich, R. R., Alinat, C. B., Ramesar, S., Le, A., Paterson, C. L., Pleasant, M. L., Park, H. Y., Kiluk, J., Han, H., Ismail-Khan, R., & Kip, K. E. (2019). Translational genomic research: the role of genetic polymorphisms in MBSR program among breast cancer survivors (MBSR[BC]). Translational behavioral medicine, 9(4), 693–702. https://doi.org/10.1093/tbm/iby061

 

Abstract

Genetic variations of breast cancer survivors (BCS) may contribute to level of residual symptoms, such as depression, stress, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. The objective of this study was to investigate whether particular single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) moderated symptom improvement resulting from the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Breast Cancer (MBSR[BC]) program. An overarching goal of personalized medicine is to identify individuals as risk for disease and tailor interventions based on genetic profiles of patients with diseases including cancer. BCS were recruited from Moffitt Cancer Center and University of South Florida’s Breast Health Program and were randomized to either the 6-week MBSR(BC) program (n = 92) or Usual Care (n = 93). Measures of symptoms, demographic, and clinical history data were attained at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks. A total of 10 SNPs from eight genes known to be related to these symptoms were studied using genomic DNA extracted from blood. Our results were examined for effect sizes, consistency, and statistical significance (p < .05). Three SNPs (rs4680 in COMT, rs6314 in HTR2A, and rs429358 in APOE) emerged as having the strongest (though relatively weak) and most consistent effects in moderating the impact of the MBSR program on symptom outcomes. Although effects were generally weak, with only one effect withstanding multiple comparisons correction for statistical significance, this translational behavioral research may help start the identification of genetic profiles that moderate the impact of MBSR(BC). The ultimate goal of this study is the development of personalized treatment programs tailored to the genetic profile of each patient.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7184864/