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OBJECTIVES: This study investigated the relationships between a mindfulness-based stress reduction meditation program for early stage breast and prostate cancer patients and quality of life, mood states, stress symptoms, lymphocyte counts, and cytokine production. METHODS: Forty-nine patients with breast cancer and 10 with prostate cancer participated in an 8-week MBSR program that incorporated relaxation, meditation, gentle yoga, and daily home practice. Demographic and health behavior variables, quality of life (EORTC QLQ C-30), mood (POMS), stress (SOSI), and counts of NK, NKT, B, T total, T helper, and T cytotoxic cells, as well as NK and T cell production of TNF, IFN-γ, IL-4, and IL-10 were assessed pre- and postintervention. RESULTS: Fifty-nine and 42 patients were assessed pre- and postintervention, respectively. Significant improvements were seen in overall quality of life, symptoms of stress, and sleep quality. Although there were no significant changes in the overall number of lymphocytes or cell subsets, T cell production of IL-4 increased and IFN-γ decreased, whereas NK cell production of IL-10 decreased. These results are consistent with a shift in immune profile from one associated with depressive symptoms to a more normal profile. CONCLUSIONS: MBSR participation was associated with enhanced quality of life and decreased stress symptoms in breast and prostate cancer patients. This study is also the first to show changes in cancer-related cytokine production associated with program participation.
Prenatal psychopathology may have an adverse impact on mother and baby, but few women receive treatment. We offered a 10-week mindfulness yoga (M-Yoga) intervention to psychiatrically high-risk pregnant women as an alternative to pharmacological treatment. Participants (N = 18) were primiparous, 12–26 weeks pregnant, and had elevated scores (>9) on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screen at baseline. In addition to a baseline diagnostic assessment, women completed self-ratings on depression, mindfulness, and maternal-fetal attachment before and after M-Yoga. Findings suggest that M-Yoga was feasible, accepted and effective. Symptoms of depression were significantly reduced (p = 0.025), while mindfulness (p = 0.007) and maternal-fetal attachment (p = 0.000) significantly increased. Overall, this pilot study is the first to demonstrate that M-Yoga may be an effective treatment alternative or augmentation to pharmacotherapy for pregnant women at high risk for psychopathology.