Friday, March 28, 2014


Few illnesses are more serious than cancer, and when the illness affects young people it is particularly distressing---and also so unfair.

A recent clinical trial led by researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Children’s Hospital has shown that daily meditation can lessen some of the main psychological inconveniences ordinarily experienced by teenagers living with (including suffering or recuperating from) cancer and thereby help improve their overall mood as well as sleep patterns.

Mindfulness meditation focuses on the ‘now’---the so-called present moment, being that ‘space’ (for want of a better word) between one such moment and the next---and the connection between the mind and the body. Persons living with, as well as recovering from, cancer experience not only the physical symptoms of their condition, as well as the various treatments for the condition, but also the anxiety and uncertainty related to the possible progression of the disease and the anticipation of physical and emotional pain related to illness and treatment.

Now, as regards the above mentioned trial, the researchers asked 13 adolescents with cancer to complete questionnaires covering mood (positive and negative emotions, anxiety and depression), sleep patterns, and quality of life. The group was divided into two, with the first group of 8 adolescents being offered 8 mindfulness-based meditation sessions, and the remaining 5 adolescents in the control group being put on a wait-list. After the last meditation session, patients from both groups filled out the same questionnaires a second time.

The researchers found that teenagers who participated in the mindfulness group had lower scores in depression after completing the 8 mindfulness-based meditation sessions. Interestingly, female participants in the mindfulness group reported sleeping better than their male counterparts. The researchers also noticed that the female participants developed mindfulness skills to a greater extent than the males during the sessions.

Resource: Malboeuf-Hurtubise C, Achille M, Sultan S, and Vadnais M, ‘Mindfulness-based intervention for teenagers with cancer: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial,’ Trials 2013, 14:135

Image (above): Don Bayley/


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