COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Women with breast cancer who participated in a psychological intervention program showed lower levels of a stress hormone and higher levels of a antibody that fights breast tumors than did other patients, a new study has found.
In addition, women in the program were more likely than others to get the full dosage of their chemotherapy, and showed lower levels of depression and reported higher quality of life.
The results suggest that the program -- which included training in relaxation, stress reduction, and coping strategies -- may not only aid women psychologically, but may also help them fight their disease, said Barbara Andersen, leader of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University.
"The bright and encouraging news is that psychological interventions have reliable biological effects that can benefit women with breast cancer," Andersen said. "To our knowledge, these are the first experimental data to show a link between psychological interventions and an immune response directly related to fighting breast cancer."
She presented the results Aug. 21 in Boston in an invited address at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.
Andersen and her colleagues examined 115 women with
Stage II or Stage III breast cancer. Half of the women
enrolled in the intervention, which included social
training in progressive muscle relaxation, encouragement
Contact: Barbara Andersen
Ohio State University