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Canadian researchers assigned eight teens with cancer to eight sessions of mindfulness-based meditation. Another five teenage cancer patients were assigned to a "control group" that was put on a waiting list.
Practitioners of mindfulness-based meditation focus on the present moment and the link between mind and body. The weekly sessions lasted 90 minutes each.
After the eight sessions, the teens in the meditation group had fewer depression symptoms than those in the control group, the University of Montreal researchers said.
Girls in the meditation group said they slept better and had developed greater meditation skills than boys.
The study was scheduled for presentation March 13 at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in San Francisco.
Previous research has found that meditation can benefit adults with cancer. These findings suggest the same might be true for teens with cancer, although the research did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
"The social support provided to the adolescents in the mindfulness group could possibly explain observed benefits on mood and sleep," study author Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise said in a university news release. "Nonetheless, mindfulness-based interventions for teenagers with cancer appear as a promising option to lighten psychological inconveniences of living with cancer."
Teens with cancer often experience anxiety over issues such as the physical and emotional pain of the illness and treatment, disease progression, and the challenges of living with cancer, Malboeuf-Hurtubise and her colleagues said. Fears about cancer returning after treatment are another common concern.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
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SOURCE: University of Montreal, news release, March 13, 2014