Improve Sexual Function in Women with Breast Cancer with Mindfulness

Improve Sexual Function in Women with Breast Cancer with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is extraordinary; it is as if they replace you with someone else. Positive thinking increased my willingness to return to life.” – International Society for Sexual Medicine

 

Because of great advances in treatment, many patients today are surviving cancer. But cancer survivors frequently suffer from anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbance, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, loss of personal control, impaired quality of life, and psychiatric symptoms which have been found to persist even ten years after remission. Also, cancer survivors can have to deal with a heightened fear of reoccurrence. So, safe and effective treatments for the symptoms in cancer and the physical and psychological effects of the treatments are needed.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors. 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 sexual function in breast cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction on female sexual function and mental health in patients with breast cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8799961/ ) Chang and colleagues recruited breast cancer survivors and provided them with either a 6-weeks of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program or treatment as usual. They were measured before and after for sexual function, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and quality of life.

 

They found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) produce significant increases in sexual arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction and significant reductions in anxiety and perceived stress.

 

Because of the nature of the treatments for breast cancer, sexual confidence and performance may be challenged. It is very important to these women’s well-being that they return to normal engagement in sex. It is very encouraging that mindfulness training appears to improve sexual satisfaction in these women after treatment. This, in turn, markedly improves their mental health.

 

Mindfulness-based stress reduction interventions are highly beneficial for reducing depression, fatigue, and stress in the short term. . . Breast cancer survivors are recommended to practice MBSR as part of their daily care routine.” – Yun-Chen Chang

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chang, Y. C., Lin, G. M., Yeh, T. L., Chang, Y. M., Yang, C. H., Lo, C., Yeh, C. Y., & Hu, W. Y. (2022). Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction on female sexual function and mental health in patients with breast cancer. Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, 30(5), 4315–4325. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06540-y

 

Abstract

Purpose

There have been few studies using mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to improve sexual function in Asian women with breast cancer. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of mindfulness intervention on female sexual function, mental health, and quality of life in patients with breast cancer.

Methods

Fifty-one women with breast cancer were allocated into 6-week MBSR (n=26) sessions or usual care (n=25), without differences in group characteristics. The research tools included the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21 (DASS-21), and the EuroQol instrument (EQ-5D). The Greene Climacteric Scale (GCS) was used to verify the foregoing scale. The effects of MBSR were evaluated by the differences between the post- and pre-intervention scores in each scale. Statistical analyses consisted of the descriptive dataset and Mann-Whitney ranked-pairs test.

Results

Although MBSR did not significantly improve sexual desire and depression in patients with breast cancer, MBSR could improve parts of female sexual function [i.e., Δarousal: 5.73 vs. -5.96, Δlubrication: 3.35 vs. -3.48, and Δsatisfaction: 8.48 vs. 1.76; all p <.005], with a range from small to medium effect sizes. A significantly benefits were found on mental health [Δanxiety: -10.92 vs.11.36 and Δstress: -10.96 vs.11.40; both p <.001], with large effect sizes, ranging from 0.75 to 0.87.

Conclusion

Our study revealed that MBSR can improve female sexual function and mental health except for sexual desire and depression in women with breast cancer. Medical staff can incorporate MBSR into clinical health education for patients with breast cancer to promote their overall quality of life.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8799961/

Improve Inflammatory and Stress Responses with Yoga

Improve Inflammatory and Stress Responses with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“yoga could slow the harmful physical effects of stress and inflammaging.” – Harvard Health

 

The immune system is designed to protect the body from threats like stress, infection, injury, and toxic chemicals. One of its tools is the Inflammatory response. This response works quite well for short-term infections and injuries. But when inflammation is protracted and becomes chronic, it can itself become a threat to health. It can produce autoimmune diseases such as colitis, Chron’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, increased cancer risk, lung disease, sleep disruption, gum disease, decreased bone health, psoriasis, and depression. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity.

 

So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent. Of course, it is far better to prevent chronic inflammation in the first place than to treat it later. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response. The evidence is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The role of yoga in inflammatory markers. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8842003/ ) Estevan and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of yoga practice on the inflammatory response.

 

They report that the published research found that yoga practice reduces the inflammatory response and stress hormones in a wide variety of conditions such a COPD, obesity cancer, and depression. So, the research suggests that yoga practice is an effective treatment to reduce the chronic inflammation.

 

Often, the precursor to illness is chronic inflammation. . . . Yoga — of various styles, intensities, and durations — reduced the biochemical markers of inflammation across several chronic conditions.” – Sarah Ezrin

 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Estevao C. (2022). The role of yoga in inflammatory markers. Brain, behavior, & immunity – health, 20, 100421. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbih.2022.100421

 

Abstract

Yoga is an ancient system for integrating the mind, body, and spirit. In the hatha yoga ashtanga tradition (the eight limb Patanjali Yoga), three of the limbs are meditation, breathwork (pranayama) and physical postures (asana), which are widely practised in yoga classes. The benefits of yoga for mental and physical health are rooted in the practice’s origins: in yoga, stress is said to be the root of all diseases.

The established fields of psychoneuroimmunology and immunopsychiatry study the interplay between the immune system and mood or mental states. This mini-review has shifted the emphasis from research that focuses on yoga’s benefits for stress, the most commonly studied outcome of yoga research, to a summary of the research on the effects of yoga practices on the immune system. The current literature bears strong evidence for the benefits of yoga on the levels of circulating cortisol and classical inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and cytokines such as interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interferon-gamma (INF-γ). The evidence for other less studied markers, telomerase activity, β-endorphins, Immunoglobulin A (IgA) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is also growing. This mini-review centres around the interplay between yoga and these markers in stress management and depression, vascular and immune function in the older population, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, auto-immune diseases, breast cancer and pregnancy.

Overall, the literature examined reveals the novelty of this field of research and sheds light on methodological challenges; however, it uncovers the potential for yoga to be used as adjuvant therapy in conditions with an inflammatory component.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8842003/

 

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

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

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness based interventions hold a great deal of promise for helping people with cancer cope across a broad range of symptoms and issues, both during and after the completion of active treatment.” – Jessica Pieczynski

 

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. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. This suggests that ACT may be an effective treatment for women with breast cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on depression, pain acceptance, and psychological flexibility in married women with breast cancer: a pre- and post-test clinical trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8317551/ ) Ghorbani and colleagues recruited married women with breast cancer who exhibited moderate levels of anxiety and depression and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 90 minute sessions of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or to a wait list control condition. They were measured before and after ACT and 2 months later for perceived stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and acceptance and action.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group after Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) there were significant reductions in depression and significant increases in pain acceptance and flexibility. These improvements were maintained at the 2-month follow-up.

 

The study did not have an active control condition, rather employing a wait-list control. This leaves open the possibility of participant expectancy (placebo) effects or attentional (Hawthorne) effects explaining the results. In addition, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a complex therapy with several therapeutic components. It is unclear what components or combination of components are critical for the benefits. Nevertheless, the results demonstrate that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective in improving the psychological well-being of breast cancer patients. This could well translate into better recovery and health in these women.

 

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

 

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

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ghorbani, V., Zanjani, Z., Omidi, A., & Sarvizadeh, M. (2021). Efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on depression, pain acceptance, and psychological flexibility in married women with breast cancer: a pre- and post-test clinical trial. Trends in psychiatry and psychotherapy, 43(2), 126–133. https://doi.org/10.47626/2237-6089-2020-0022

 

Abstract

Objective:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Many of these patients suffer from multiple psychological symptoms. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on depression, pain acceptance, and psychological flexibility in married women with breast cancer.

Methods:

The present study was a pre- and post-test clinical trial with intervention and control groups. The research population consisted of women with breast cancer referred to the Ayatollah Yasrebi and Shahid Beheshti Hospitals in Kashan in 2018. Through a purposive sampling method, 40 women were selected and randomly divided into two groups, namely, intervention (n = 20) and control (n = 20). The applied tools included the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire 8 (CPAQ-8), and Acceptance and Action Questionnaire – II (AAQ-II). Data were analyzed by SPSS 16 using descriptive statistics and analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Results:

The results showed that ACT treatment significantly reduced the mean scores of depression compared to the control group (F = 107.72, p < 0.001). The mean scores of pain acceptance (F = 9.58, p < 0.05) and psychological flexibility (F = 10.61, p < 0 .05) significantly increased in comparison with the control group.

Conclusion:

ACT can be considered as an effective therapeutic approach to reduce depression and increase pain acceptance and psychological flexibility in women with breast cancer. These changes appear to be due to improved acceptance of thoughts and feelings associated with cancer and increased psychological flexibility, which is the primary goal of ACT treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8317551/

 

Reduce Fatigue and Improve Sleep in Cancer Survivors with Tai Chi

Reduce Fatigue and Improve Sleep in Cancer Survivors with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“tai chi may help to increase strength, balance, flexibility, heart and lung function, feelings of well-being” – BreastCancer.org

 

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 depressionTai Chi or Qigong practice has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue, and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. They are very gentle and safe practices. The research on the effectiveness of Tai Chi training for cancer patients is accumulating. So, it makes sense to take a step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi for cancer survivors: A systematic review toward consensus-based guidelines.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8559497/ ) Yang and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled clinical trials of the effectiveness of Tai Chi training for the well-being of cancer survivors. They identified 26 published studies.

 

They report that the published research found that 8 to 12 weeks of Tai Chi practice produce significant decreases in fatigue and increases in sleep quality in cancer patients. The published studies were generally of low methodological quality and small number of patients. So, there is a need for future studies employing high quality methodologies with large groups. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to conclude that Tai Chi practice is beneficial for cancer survivors reducing fatigue and improving sleep.

 

So, reduce fatigue and improve sleep in cancer survivors with Tai Chi.

 

participation in Tai Chi had a positive influence on quality of life and psychological health for cancer survivors.” – Catherine Stifter

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Yang, L., Winters-Stone, K., Rana, B., Cao, C., Carlson, L. E., Courneya, K. S., Friedenreich, C. M., & Schmitz, K. H. (2021). Tai Chi for cancer survivors: A systematic review toward consensus-based guidelines. Cancer medicine, 10(21), 7447–7456. https://doi.org/10.1002/cam4.4273

 

Abstract

To manage acute, long‐term, and late effects of cancer, current guidelines recommend moderate‐to‐vigorous intensity aerobic and resistance exercise. Unfortunately, not all cancer survivors are able or willing to perform higher intensity exercise during difficult cancer treatments or because of other existing health conditions. Tai Chi is an equipment‐free, multicomponent mind–body exercise performed at light‐to‐moderate intensity that may provide a more feasible alternative to traditional exercise programs for some cancer survivors. This systematic review evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of Tai Chi across the cancer care continuum. We searched MEDLINE/PubMed, Embase, SCOPUS, and CINAHL databases for interventional studies from inception to 18 September 2020. Controlled trials of the effects of Tai Chi training on patient‐reported and objectively measured outcomes in cancer survivors were included. Study quality was determined by the RoB 2 tool, and effect estimates were evaluated using the Best Evidence Synthesis approach. Twenty‐six reports from 14 trials (one non‐randomized controlled trial) conducted during (n = 5) and after treatment (after surgery: n = 2; after other treatments: n = 7) were included. Low‐level evidence emerged to support the benefits of 40–60 min of thrice‐weekly supervised Tai Chi for 8–12 weeks to improve fatigue and sleep quality in cancer survivors. These findings need to be confirmed in larger trials and tested for scaling‐up potential. Insufficient evidence was available to evaluate the effects of Tai Chi on other cancer‐related outcomes. Future research should examine whether Tai Chi training can improve a broader range of cancer outcomes including during the pre‐treatment and end of life phases.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8559497/

 

Improve the Ability of Yoga to Reduce Fatigue in Cancer Patients with Email Reminders

Improve the Ability of Yoga to Reduce Fatigue in Cancer Patients with Email Reminders

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga works on the principle of mind and body health and it would help women cope with systemic therapy side effects better. Yoga nidra and pranayama also improve sleep patterns. Thus all this together may reduce fatigue and pain.” – Nita Nair

 

Because of great advances in treatment, many patients today are surviving cancer. But cancer survivors frequently suffer from anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbance, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, loss of personal control, impaired quality of life, and psychiatric symptoms which have been found to persist even ten years after remission. Also, cancer survivors can have to deal with a heightened fear of reoccurrence. So, safe and effective treatments for the symptoms in cancer and the physical and psychological effects of the treatments are needed.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors. Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has also been shown to be helpful with the residual symptoms in cancer survivors, the psychological and physical ability to deal with cancer treatment and improves sleep. But adherence to practice over time can be a problem with yoga. So, it is important to investigate methods to improve long-term adherence to yoga practice to enhance and maintain its benefits for cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Yoga therapy to reduce fatigue in cancer: effects of reminder e-mails and long-term efficacy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8550207/ ) Zetzl and colleagues recruited adult cancer survivors who reported fatigue symptoms and provided them with an 8 weekly 1-hour sessions of yoga practice. They were randomly assigned to no further treatment or to receive email reminders and a description of a yoga posture and encouragement to practice once a week for 24 weeks following the completion of training. They were measured before and after the yoga therapy and 6 months later for fatigue, frequency of yoga practice, depression, and quality of life.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline yoga therapy produced significant reductions in fatigue and depression and significant increases in quality of life, These improvements were maintained 6 months later. In addition, the group that received email reminders compared to the no email reminder group at the 6-month follow-up had greater reductions in fatigue particularly emotional fatigue and they practiced more frequently. A mediation analysis revealed that email reminders were related to reductions in emotional fatigue directly and also indirectly by increasing practice frequency which in turn also decreased fatigue.

 

The study demonstrates that yoga practice by cancer survivors improves their quality of life and reduces depression and fatigue. These findings are not new as yoga practice has been reported by other researchers in a variety of participant types to improve quality of life and reduce depression and fatigue. What is new here is the demonstration that these benefits for cancer survivors can be increased by providing weekly email reminders to practice yoga to increase the frequency of practice.

 

So, improve the ability of yoga to reduce fatigue in cancer patients with email reminders.

 

yoga may be beneficial as a component of treatment for both fatigue and depression in cancer survivors.” – Jessica Armer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zetzl, T., Pittig, A., Renner, A., van Oorschot, B., & Jentschke, E. (2021). Yoga therapy to reduce fatigue in cancer: effects of reminder e-mails and long-term efficacy. Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, 29(12), 7725–7735. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06345-z

 

Abstract

Objective

To examine the efficacy of reminder e-mails to continue yoga therapy on practice frequency and fatigue in cancer patients and long-term effects of yoga on fatigue, depression, and quality of life.

Methodology

One hundred two cancer patients who completed an 8-week yoga therapy were randomly allocated to two groups: reminder (N = 51) vs. no-reminder group (N = 51). After completing yoga therapy, the reminder group received weekly e-mails for 24 weeks, which reminded them of practicing yoga, whereas the no-reminder group did not. Primary outcomes were fatigue and practice frequency, and long-term outcomes were fatigue, depression, and quality of life. Data were assessed using questionnaires after yoga therapy (T1) and 6 months after completing yoga therapy (T2).

Result

A significantly stronger reduction of general (p = 0.038, d = 0.42) and emotional fatigue (p = 0.004, d = 0.59) and a higher increase of practice frequency (p = 0.015, d = 0.52) between T1 and T2 were found for the reminder group compared to the no-reminder group. In the mediation model, practice frequency as a mediator partially explained the changes in emotional fatigue (indirect effect B =  − 0.10). Long-term effects of yoga therapy regarding fatigue, depression, and quality of life were found (F > 7.46, p < 0.001, d > 0.54).

Conclusion

Weekly reminder e-mails after yoga therapy can positively affect general and emotional fatigue and help cancer patients with fatigue establish a regular yoga practice at home. However, higher practice frequency did not lead to higher physical or cognitive fatigue improvement, suggesting other factors that mediate efficacy on physical or cognitive fatigue, such as mindfulness or side effects of therapy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8550207/

 

Improve Breast Cancer Survivors Physical and Psychological Health with Yoga

Improve Breast Cancer Survivors Physical and Psychological Health with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis has potentially “favorable influence on breast cancer incidence and outcome.” Yoga can not only be an effective, low-impact exercise, but it has also been shown in numerous studies to reduce fatigue, improve physical function and quality of sleep, and contribute to an overall better quality of life.” – Gretchen Stelter

 

Because of great advances in treatment, many breast cancer patients today are surviving. But breast cancer survivors frequently suffer from a range of persistent psychological and physical residual symptoms that impair their quality of life. Mindfulness training and exercise have been shown to help with general cancer recovery. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors.  Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has also been shown to be helpful with the residual symptoms in cancer survivors, the psychological and physical ability to deal with cancer treatment and improves sleep. The mechanisms of how yoga produces these benefits are unknown.

 

In today’s Research News article “The high dose of vitamin D supplementation combined with yoga training improve the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression in breast cancer survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403369/ ) Zare and colleagues recruited adult survivors of breast cancer and randomly assigned them to receive a high dose of vitamin D (4000 IU), a high dose of vitamin D (4000 IU) plus 12 weeks of yoga practice, or a low dose of vitamin D (2000 IU) plus 12 weeks of yoga practice. Yoga practice consisted of postures, breathing exercises, and meditation and was practiced for 60-90 minutes twice a week for 12 weeks. The participants were measured before and after training for anxiety, body size, aerobic fitness (1-mile walk), shoulder range of motion, blood cortisol, and expression of leukocyte survival genes p53, NF-κB, Bcl2, and Bax.

 

They found that yoga practice resulted in a significant decrease in body fat percentage and anxiety levels and a significant increase in aerobic fitness and shoulder flexibility regardless of the vitamin D dosage. They also found that the high dose of vitamin D produced a significant up regulation of the leukocyte survival genes p53 and Bcl2 regardless of yoga practice.

 

These results suggest/that yoga practice is beneficial for breast cancer survivors improving their psychological and physical well being while high dose vitamin D supplementation improves their cell survival genes. It should be noted that there wasn’t an active comparison, control, condition for yoga practice such as another form of exercise. So, it is unclear if the effects were due to yoga practice per se or to the exercise provided by yoga practice. But previous controlled studies of the effects of yoga practice have shown that yoga practice reduces anxiety and body fat. So, the effects seen here are likely due to yoga practice. Hence the results suggest that the combination of yoga practice plus high dose vitamin D supplementation should be recommended for breast cancer survivors.

 

So, improve breast cancer survivors physical and psychological health with yoga.

 

Research suggests that there are real benefits to regularly practising yoga after a breast cancer diagnosis, particularly for emotional wellbeing, cancer-related fatigue and pain.” – Brest 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

 

Khedmati Zare, V., Javadi, M., Amani-Shalamzari, S., & Kaviani, M. (2021). The high dose of vitamin D supplementation combined with yoga training improve the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression in breast cancer survivors. Nutrition & metabolism, 18(1), 80. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-021-00607-7

 

Abstract

Background

This study aimed to examine the effect of yoga training combined with vitamin D supplementation on the expression of survival-related genes in leukocytes and psycho-physical status in breast cancer survivors.

Methods

Thirty breast cancer survivor women (age, 48 ± 8 yrs) were randomly assigned into three groups: high dose (4000 IU) of vitamin D supplementation (HD) (n = 10); yoga training with a high dose of vitamin D (Y + HD); (n  = 10); yoga training with a low dose (2000 IU) of vitamin D (Y + LD) (n = 10). Participants performed the Hatha yoga style twice a week. Blood samples and a battery of psychological and physical tests were taken before and after the completion of interventions. Expression of p53, NF-κB, Bcl2, and Bax genes was measured in leukocytes.

Results

Body fat percentage (ηp2 = 0.36), shoulder flexibility (ηp2 = 0.38), Rockport walk tests (ηp2 = 0.49), and anxiety (ηp2 = 0.52) were significantly improved in both the Y + HD and Y + LD groups compared to the HD group (p < 0.05). P53 was significantly over-expressed in the Y + HD group while Bcl2 upregulated in both the Y + HD and Y + LD groups. NF-κB and Bax expression downregulated in all groups but were not statistically significant.

Conclusion

yoga training combined with low and high doses of VD improved physical fitness and psychological measures while only in combination with a high dose of VD positively modified the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403369/

 

Psychedelic Drugs are Theorized to have Aided in Human Social Evolution

Psychedelic Drugs are Theorized to have Aided in Human Social Evolution

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“psychedelics have profound cognitive, emotional, and social effects that inspired the development of cultures and religions worldwide.” – Michael J. Winkelman

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. Psychedelics produce effects that are similar to those that are reported in spiritual awakenings, a positive mood, with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever.

 

It is not known why the use of psychedelic substances have been so widely used throughout human evolution. Natural selection suggests that the use of these substances must confer some adaptive advantage, or their use would have ceased. What exactly are those advantages is a source of active debate in the scientific community. In today’s Research News article “Psychedelics, Sociality, and Human Evolution.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A ) Arce and colleagues provide an evidence backed theoretical argument regarding the role of psychedelic substances in the evolution of humankind.

 

There is substantial evidence that early hominids routinely ingested fungi including mushroom that contained psychedelic substances. Early recorded history includes description of psychedelic uses in Mesoamerican societies. Indeed, psychedelic use has been recorded in early societies in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, South America, Artic and Subarctic, and Central America. This suggests that there must be some instrumental effect of these substances that enhances the survival of humans.

 

Psilocybin and related psychedelics do not have physically toxic side effects. So, they can be ingested safely. The only evident problem is a change in cognition that could open “the possibility for errors in judgment, false perceptions, distortions, and illusions that could undermine an individual’s capacity for alertness, strategic thinking, and decision-making”. But early humans learned to use these substances in particular circumstances, such as rituals,  where the consequences of altered cognition could be minimized.

 

In their favor, psychedelic substances have been shown to improve coping with stress which was likely high in early hominid development. In addition, psychedelic substances have been used throughout history for the treatment of diseases and in recent years have been found to be effective in promoting recovery from a cancer diagnosis, relieving depression, and even in smoking cessation.

 

Psychedelic substances have traditionally been used in groups particularly around rituals and religious ceremonies which would improve social bonds, group cohesion, and pro-social behavior. This would facilitate social cooperation that was essential for early hominid group survival. Psychedelic substances have also been shown to enhance creative thinking and problem solving which would be of great use in adapting to changing environments.

 

These findings and arguments suggest that ingesting psychedelic substances may have been adaptive for humans increasing their chances of survival and procreation. It seems counterintuitive that ingesting substances that for the short term may make the individual less responsive and capable in the environment could actually improve survival. But that is what psychedelic substances appear to do. In this way ingesting psychedelic substances may be adaptive and thus be promoted in evolution.

 

So, psychedelic drugs are theorized to have aided in human social evolution

 

psychedelic drugs. By simulating the effects of religious transcendence, they mimic states of mind that played an evolutionarily valuable role in making human cooperation possible – and with it, greater numbers of surviving descendants.” – James Carney

 

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

 

Rodríguez Arce JM and Winkelman MJ (2021) Psychedelics, Sociality, and Human Evolution. Front. Psychol. 12:729425. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425

 

Our hominin ancestors inevitably encountered and likely ingested psychedelic mushrooms throughout their evolutionary history. This assertion is supported by current understanding of: early hominins’ paleodiet and paleoecology; primate phylogeny of mycophagical and self-medicative behaviors; and the biogeography of psilocybin-containing fungi. These lines of evidence indicate mushrooms (including bioactive species) have been a relevant resource since the Pliocene, when hominins intensified exploitation of forest floor foods. Psilocybin and similar psychedelics that primarily target the serotonin 2A receptor subtype stimulate an active coping strategy response that may provide an enhanced capacity for adaptive changes through a flexible and associative mode of cognition. Such psychedelics also alter emotional processing, self-regulation, and social behavior, often having enduring effects on individual and group well-being and sociality. A homeostatic and drug instrumentalization perspective suggests that incidental inclusion of psychedelics in the diet of hominins, and their eventual addition to rituals and institutions of early humans could have conferred selective advantages. Hominin evolution occurred in an ever-changing, and at times quickly changing, environmental landscape and entailed advancement into a socio-cognitive niche, i.e., the development of a socially interdependent lifeway based on reasoning, cooperative communication, and social learning. In this context, psychedelics’ effects in enhancing sociality, imagination, eloquence, and suggestibility may have increased adaptability and fitness. We present interdisciplinary evidence for a model of psychedelic instrumentalization focused on four interrelated instrumentalization goals: management of psychological distress and treatment of health problems; enhanced social interaction and interpersonal relations; facilitation of collective ritual and religious activities; and enhanced group decision-making. The socio-cognitive niche was simultaneously a selection pressure and an adaptive response, and was partially constructed by hominins through their activities and their choices. Therefore, the evolutionary scenario put forward suggests that integration of psilocybin into ancient diet, communal practice, and proto-religious activity may have enhanced hominin response to the socio-cognitive niche, while also aiding in its creation. In particular, the interpersonal and prosocial effects of psilocybin may have mediated the expansion of social bonding mechanisms such as laughter, music, storytelling, and religion, imposing a systematic bias on the selective environment that favored selection for prosociality in our lineage.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A

 

Relieve Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients with Mind-Body Exercise

Relieve Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients with Mind-Body Exercise

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness has both direct and indirect effects on the fatigue of breast cancer survivors and that mindfulness can be used to more effectively reduce their fatigue.” – Kaori Ikeuchi

 

Receiving a diagnosis of breast 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 breast cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But surviving breast 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 stress, sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. Mind-body practices such as Tai Chi or Qigong, and yoga have been shown to be effective in improving the psychological symptoms occurring in breast cancer patients. The research has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “A Meta-Analysis: Intervention Effect of Mind-Body Exercise on Relieving Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8275388/ ) Liu and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of mind-body practices in relieving the chronic fatigue that occurs in breast cancer survivors. They identified 17 published randomized controlled trials that included a total of 1133 breast cancer patient. The mind-body practices employed in the published trials were yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigon.

 

They report that the published research found that mind-body practices significantly reduced the fatigue of patients with breast cancer. They further found that Tai Chi practice produced significantly greater reductions in fatigue than yoga practice and that practicing for over 40 minutes duration produces greater reductions in fatigue than shorter practice durations. Hence, the published research to date suggests that practicing yoga and particularly Tai Chi can successfully reduce cancer-related fatigue in patients with breast cancer. This is important as fatigue greatly interferes with the quality of life of the patients and their ability to reengage in normal daily activities. Mind-body practices, then, can improve the lives of breast cancer patients.

 

So, relieve cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients with mind-body exercise.

 

Mindfulness-and in particular nonreactivity, nonjudging, and describing-may be a personal resource for women with metastatic breast cancer in coping with complex symptoms of this life-threatening illness.” – Lauren A Zimmaro

 

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

 

Liu, C., Qin, M., Zheng, X., Chen, R., & Zhu, J. (2021). A Meta-Analysis: Intervention Effect of Mind-Body Exercise on Relieving Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2021, 9980940. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/9980940

 

Abstract

Objective

This paper aims to systematically evaluate the intervention effect of mind-body exercise on cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients.

Methods

Databases including PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase, Web of Science, CNKI, Wanfang Data, and SINOMED were retrieved to collect randomized controlled trials on the effects of mind-body exercise on relieving cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients. The retrieval period started from the founding date of each database to January 6, 2021. Cochrane bias risk assessment tools were used to evaluate the methodological quality assessment of the included literature, and RevMan 5.3 software was used for meta-analyses.

Results

17 pieces of researches in 16 papers were included with a total of 1133 patients. Compared with the control group, mind-body exercise can improve cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients. The combined effect size SMD = 0.59, 95% CI was [0.27, 0.92], p < 0.00001. Doing Tai Chi for over 40 minutes each time with an exercise cycle of ≤6 weeks can improve cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients more significantly. Sensitivity analysis shows that the combined effect results of the meta-analysis were relatively stable.

Conclusion

Mind-body exercise can effectively improve cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8275388/

 

Mindfulness Practice at Home is Related to Improved Distress in Cancer Survivors

Mindfulness Practice at Home is Related to Improved Distress in Cancer Survivors

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Cancer and its treatment can be stressful for people with cancer and their caregivers. Relaxation techniques and other mind/body practices can help calm your mind and sharpen your ability to focus. These techniques offer creative ways to reduce stress caused by cancer and maintain inner peace.” Rachel Barnhart

 

A cancer diagnosis has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a surviving cancer is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including fatiguestress,  sleep disturbancefear, and anxiety and depression. Most mindfulness training programs include daily practice at home. Although it is assumed that home practice is important for the effectiveness of the intervention, it is not known how important home practice is to the effects of mindfulness practice on the physical and psychological well-being of cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review of Participants’ Adherence to Home Practice.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8200136/ ) Baydoun and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the relationship of home practice to the physical and psychological effects of mindfulness practice on cancer survivors.

 

They identified 21 published research studies that included a total of 1811 participants. They report that these published studies found that on average participants reported 23.5 minutes of daily home mindfulness practice, which was about 60% of what was recommended in the studies. They also report that the greater the amount of home practice by cancer survivors the greater the reduction in psychological distress.

 

These results suggest that adherence to recommended home practice is substantially less than recommended in the studies. But adherence is related to the psychological benefits obtained by cancer survivors. It has been assumed that home practice was important and this study suggests that it is indeed important. This suggests that future research protocols should include methods to optimize the amount of home mindfulness practice.

 

In addition, the results are correlative and as such causation cannot be determined. It is possible that people who tend to adhere to home practice recommendations are also the types of people who benefit the most from mindfulness-based interventions. So, future studies should manipulate the amount of home practice to determine causal relationships between this practice and the benefits obtained.

 

So, mindfulness practice at home is related to improved distress in cancer survivors.

 

Cancer and its treatment can be stressful—for you and your caregivers. Practicing mindfulness and relaxation can help calm your mind, reduce stress, and sharpen your ability to focus.” – American Cancer Society

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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

 

Study Summary

 

Baydoun, M., Moran, C., McLennan, A., Piedalue, K. L., Oberoi, D., & Carlson, L. E. (2021). Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review of Participants’ Adherence to Home Practice. Patient preference and adherence, 15, 1225–1242. https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S267064

 

Abstract

Background

Although mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have demonstrated efficacy for alleviating psychological distress in cancer survivors, little is known about the extent to which participants adhere to assigned home practice. The purpose of this systematic review was to summarize and appraise the literature on rates and correlates of adherence to mindfulness home practice among cancer survivors.

Methods

Four databases (PubMed, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, PsycInfo, and CINAHL) were searched for studies published before October 15, 2020. Articles were included if they evaluated the benefits of an MBI program for adults with cancer.

Results

Twenty-one studies (N=1811 participants) meeting the inclusion criteria were identified (randomized controlled trials (n=13), non-randomized controlled designs (n=2), single-group studies (n=6)). The pooled adherence rate for participants’ home practice was 60% of the assigned amount, which equated to 27 min per day during the intervention period. There was some evidence for a relationship between home practice of mindfulness techniques and improvements in mood, stress, anxiety, depression, and fear of cancer recurrence (correlation coefficients ranged from 0.33 to 0.67). Factors including marital status, mood disturbance at baseline, intervention modality, and personality traits were evaluated in relation to adherence to home practice, but the current literature was inadequate to evaluate whether a relationship exists.

Conclusion

Adherence to mindfulness home practice among cancer survivors is suboptimal, and most of the correlates of adherence studied to date are non-modifiable. More research is warranted to scrutinize the role of home practice in mindfulness-based interventions, including assessment of modifiable factors influencing adherence to improve benefits for this population.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8200136/

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Caregivers with Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Caregivers with Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being more aware of our present moment experience also helps with self-care, something that caregivers often overlook. With a mindfulness practice you can notice sooner when you feel tired, or are having an emotional experience, and make sure you stop and look after yourself.” – Naomi Stoll

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. This caregiving comes at a cost exacting a tremendous toll on caregivers’ health and well-being. Caregiving has been associated with increased levels of depression and anxiety as well as higher use of psychoactive medications, poorer self-reported physical health, compromised immune function, and increased mortality. Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Short- and Long-term Causal Relationships Between Self-compassion, Trait Mindfulness, Caregiver Stress, and Depressive Symptoms in Family Caregivers of Patients with Lung Cancer.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096886/)  Hsieh and colleagues recruited family caregivers of patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.  To investigate longitudinal changes, they were administered questionnaires initially and 2, 5, and 8 months later. They were measured for mindfulness, depression, perceived stress, and self-compassion.

 

They found that over time depressed caregivers had significant declines in their depression levels. They also found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of depression and perceived stress, and the higher the levels of self-compassion and the higher the levels of depression the lower the levels of self-compassion and the higher the levels of perceived stress. Further they found that over the 4 measurements self-compassion at time 1 was associated with higher mindfulness at time 2 which was associated with lower perceived stress at time 3 which was associated with lower depression at time 4.

 

It has been well established that mindfulness is associated with greater self-compassion and lower stress and depression. The present study found that depression tends to decrease over time associated with self-compassion and mindfulness. In particular self-compassion appears to be important for lowering caregiver depression levels over time and it does so by being associated with higher mindfulness which is associated with lower stress levels which, in turn, are associated with lower depression.

 

The present study is correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But, in combination with prior manipulative research it can be suggested that training in self-compassion and mindfulness should be very beneficial for caregivers of lung cancer patients lowering their stress and depression.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of caregivers with self-compassion and mindfulness.

 

The big open secret is that the key to reducing caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue lies in what can be construed to some as the seemingly counterintuitive wisdom of mindfulness.“ – Audrey Meinertzhagen

 

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

 

Hsieh, C. C., Lin, Z. Z., Ho, C. C., Yu, C. J., Chen, H. J., Chen, Y. W., & Hsiao, F. H. (2021). The Short- and Long-term Causal Relationships Between Self-compassion, Trait Mindfulness, Caregiver Stress, and Depressive Symptoms in Family Caregivers of Patients with Lung Cancer. Mindfulness, 1–10. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-021-01642-4

 

Abstract

Objectives

Using a prospective longitudinal design, this paper examines a serial mediation model of the associations between self-compassion, trait mindfulness, caregiver stress, and depressive symptoms among the family caregivers of patients with lung cancer.

Methods

A four-wave design was used, with initial assessment (T1) and three follow-ups, at the 2nd month (T2), the 5th month (T3), and the 8th month (T4). A total of 123 family caregivers completed the baseline measurements, including caregiver stress, self-compassion, trait mindfulness, and depressive symptoms. Data were analyzed by serial mediation models to determine the causal ordering of these variables.

Results

Nearly one-quarter of the family caregivers suffered from clinically significant depressive symptoms and the severity of their depression remained unchanged throughout the 8-month follow-up period. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal path analyses revealed that the relationship between self-compassion and depressive symptoms was mediated sequentially by trait mindfulness and caregiver stress. The subscale analysis indicated that the association of higher compassionate action with fewer depressive symptoms was through chain-mediating effects of higher mindful awareness and lower caregiver stress.

Conclusions

Family caregivers who have higher levels of self-compassion tend to have more mindfulness; greater mindfulness leads to lower levels of perceived caregiving stress which, in turn, links to fewer symptoms of depression. Both self-compassion and mindfulness could be regarded as protective factors for caregivers to reduce caregiving stress and depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096886/