Mindfulness Research: Mindfulness Reduces Stress in Cancer Patients

The research “A Randomized, Wait-List Controlled Clinical Trial: The Effect of a Mindfulness Meditation-Based Stress Reduction Program on Mood and Symptoms of Stress in Cancer Outpatients” by Speca et al. of 2010 examines specifically the effects of participating in a mindfulness program for those with cancer and concluded that mindfulness reduces stress..

Ninety patients with varying forms and stages of cancer participated in 1.5 hour weekly meditations, with additional home practice, for 7 weeks. The average age of the participants in this study was 51, so this research bodes well for middle-aged adults battling cancer, and potentially other terminal illnesses. The patients completed a profile of mood states before and after their participation in the program.

The end results are astonishing: “significantly lower scores on total mood disturbance and subscales of depression, anxiety, anger, and confusion and more vigor than control subjects.” Those who participated in the weekly mediation group and at home practice also reported “fewer overall symptoms of stress, fewer cardiopulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms; less emotional irritability, depression, and cognitive disorganization; and fewer habitual patterns of stress.”

What this research shows is that for patients with cancer, which is without argument a very stressful and tumultuous disease to deal with, a low-commitment mindfulness program of 1.5 hour weekly meetings plus self-guided at home practice was extremely beneficial and dramatically changed their levels of stress, and a whole host of other detrimental experiences both physically and emotionally. Overall, the study reported a 65% reduction in mood disturbance and a 31% reduction in symptoms of stress. This ushers in a holistic option for managing the myriad pains of living with cancer, and provides great hope and promise to those who seek alternative therapies. With science and research to back the benefit of meditation in this realm, many benefits await those who choose meditation a path to healing and coping with stress, anxiety, and many kinds of suffering.


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Latest update: April 3, 2015
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