Upstate News

January 9, 2007
Kathleen Paice 315 464-4839

Study to assess benefit of meditation intervention in women with breast cancer

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A clinical trial now under way at SUNY Upstate Medical University, will study the effect of meditation, relaxation techniques and other mind/body activities have on women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy for breast cancer reduces the risk of recurrent cancer, but is associated with side effects,” said the study’s principal investigator, Lisa Kaufmann M.D., professor of internal medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University. “The purpose of this study is to find out if women participating in a mind/body program or participating in a support group have better control of nausea and quality of life.”

The trial, funded by the Carol M. Baldwin Research Fund of Central New York, is currently recruiting participants. Women interested in participating should contact Deborah MicKinkle, research assistant, at 315-464-5774, or email MickinkD@upstate.edu. The research team will respond promptly to all inquiries from patients or physicians who would like more information.

Women participating in the clinical trial will continue to receive their usual cancer treatments as prescribed by their oncologist and other physicians.

Women participating in the study will be randomly assigned by chance to one of two study groups. Some participants will enroll in the mind/body program, while others will be assigned to a support group program. The mind body program includes meditation, relaxation techniques, nutrition, movement, and journaling. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the relationship of their personal faith and belief systems to these mind/body practices. The mind/body program does not include any religious instruction and does not advocate any particular religion or belief system.

The support group will provide health education, support, and opportunities to share experiences. Both the support group and mind/body group can help people cope with difficult situations. Both groups will meet for 10 weeks and at 6 months from the date of the first meeting.

Many women use complementary and alternative treatments but there is much less published research on the effectiveness of these treatments as compared to medications. Research suggests that meditation and other mind body interventions may reduce the stress response and improve immune function, as well as improving the quality of life. What is not clear from prior research is how significant this effect would be in patients undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Support groups and mind body groups are both beneficial to many people with serious illness, in terms of helping them cope with difficult situations.

Both the support group and the mind/body program group will meet at SUNY Upstate’s Institute for Human Performance, 505 Irving Ave. The building is located at the corner of Harrison Street and Irving Avenue in Syracuse. Free parking is available.

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