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This study was designed to assess the association between stress, positive affect and catecholamine levels in meditation and control groups. The meditation group consisted of 67 subjects who regularly engaged in mind-body training of "Brain-Wave Vibration" and the control group consisted of 57 healthy subjects. Plasma catecholamine (norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E), and dopamine (DA)) levels were measured, and a modified form of the Stress Response Inventory (SRI-MF) and the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) were administered. The meditation group showed higher scores on positive affect (p=.019) and lower scores on stress (p<.001) compared with the control group. Plasma DA levels were also higher in the meditation (p=.031) than in the control group. The control group demonstrated a negative correlation between stress and positive affects (r=-.408, p=.002), whereas this correlation was not observed in the meditation group. The control group showed positive correlations between somatization and NE/E (r=.267, p=.045) and DA/E (r=.271, p=.042) ratios, whereas these correlations did not emerge in the meditation group. In conclusion, these results suggest that meditation as mind-body training is associated with lower stress, higher positive affect and higher plasma DA levels when comparing the meditation group with the control group. Thus, mind-body training may influence stress, positive affect and the sympathetic nervous system including DA activity.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fear of recurrence among breast cancer (BC) survivors. However, the effects of MBSR (BC) on telomere length (TL) and telomerase activity (TA), known markers of cellular aging, psychological stress, and disease risk, are not known. This randomized, wait-listed, controlled study, nested within a larger trial, investigated the effects of MBSR (BC) on TL and TA. BC patients (142) with Stages 0-III cancer who had completed adjuvant treatment with radiation and/or chemotherapy at least 2 weeks prior to enrollment and within 2 years of completion of treatment with lumpectomy and/or mastectomy were randomly assigned to either a 6-week MBSR for BC program or a usual care. Assessments of TA and TL were obtained along with psychological measurements at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks after completing the MBSR(BC) program. The mean age of 142 participants was 55.3 years; 72% were non-Hispanic White; 78% had Stage I or II cancer; and 36% received both chemotherapy and radiation. In analyses adjusted for baseline TA and psychological status, TA increased steadily over 12 weeks in the MBSR(BC) group (approximately 17%) compared to essentially no increase in the control group (approximately 3%, p < .01). In contrast, no between-group difference was observed for TL (p = .92). These results provide preliminary evidence that MBSR(BC) increases TA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from BC patients and have implications for understanding how MBSR(BC) may extend cell longevity at the cellular level.