Spiritual expression and immune status in women with metastatic breast cancer: an exploratory study

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Kentucky 40202, USA.
The Breast Journal (Impact Factor: 1.41). 01/2001; 7(5):345-53.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This exploratory study examined relationships between spirituality and immune function in 112 women with metastatic breast cancer. Spirituality was assessed by patient reports of frequency of attendance at religious services and importance of religious or spiritual expression. White blood cell counts, absolute numbers of lymphocytes, T-lymphocyte subsets, and natural killer cells were assessed by flow cytometry. Assessments of natural killer cell activity and delayed-type hypersensitivity responses to skin test antigens provided two measures of functional immunity. In analyses controlling for demographic, disease status, and treatment variables, women who rated spiritual expression as more important had greater numbers of circulating white blood cells and total lymphocyte counts. Upon examination of relationships with lymphocyte subsets, both helper and cytotoxic T-cell counts were greater among women reporting greater spirituality.

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    • "In addition to the extrinsic factors that could have benefited health in monasteries, there is evidence from living populations that meditation, prayer, and other types of religious behavior can have positive effects on immune function and other health factors (Woods et al., 1999; Koenig et al., 2001; Sephton et al., 2001; Davidson et al., 2003; Newberg et al., 2003; Robinson et al., 2003; Carlson et al., 2007; Tang et al., 2007; Ferguson et al., 2010). In medieval Europe, lay people who engaged in religious activities could have benefitted from the positive health effects thereof, but monastic inhabitants would have benefited to a greater degree given their more frequent involvement and greater degree of training in such activities. "
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    ABSTRACT: Scholarship on life in medieval European monasteries has revealed a variety of factors that potentially affected mortality in these communities. Though there is some evidence based on age-at-death distributions from England that monastic males lived longer than members of the general public, what is missing from the literature is an explicit examination of how the risks of mortality within medieval monastic settings differed from those within contemporaneous lay populations. This study examines differences in the hazard of mortality for adult males between monastic cemeteries (n = 528) and non-monastic cemeteries (n = 368) from London, all of which date to between AD 1050 and 1540. Age-at-death data from all cemeteries are pooled to estimate the Gompertz hazard of mortality, and "monastic" (i.e., buried in a monastic cemetery) is modeled as a covariate affecting this baseline hazard. The estimated effect of the monastic covariate is negative, suggesting that individuals in the monastic communities faced reduced risks of dying compared to their peers in the lay communities. These results suggest better diets, the positive health benefits of religious behavior, better living conditions in general in monasteries, or selective recruitment of healthy or higher socioeconomic status individuals. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 11/2013; 152(3). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22350 · 2.38 Impact Factor
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    • "For example, Sephton et al. examined the relationship between religious involvement and immune function in 112 women with metastatic breast cancer [91]. Religious expression was positively related to the total number of circulating T cells (r = 0.24, P = 0.01) and helper T cells (r = 0.23, P = 0.01), and controlling for social network size, disease, and medical treatment variables had little effect on these relationships. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper (1) reviews the physical and religious barriers to CBT that disabled medically ill-depressed patients face, (2) discusses research on the relationship between religion and depression-induced physiological changes, (3) describes an ongoing randomized clinical trial of religious versus secular CBT in chronically ill patients with mild-to-moderate major depression designed to (a) overcome physical and religious barriers to CBT and (b) compare the efficacy of religious versus secular CBT in relieving depression and improving immune and endocrine functions, and (4) presents preliminary results that illustrate the technical difficulties that have been encountered in implementing this trial. CBT is being delivered remotely via instant messaging, telephone, or Skype, and Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu versions of religious CBT are being developed. The preliminary results described here are particular to the technologies employed in this study and are not results from the CBT clinical trial whose findings will be published in the future after the study ends and data are analyzed. The ultimate goal is to determine if a psychotherapy delivered remotely that integrates patients' religious resources improves depression more quickly than a therapy that ignores them, and whether religious CBT is more effective than conventional CBT in reversing depression-induced physiological changes.
    Depression research and treatment 06/2012; 2012(6):460419. DOI:10.1155/2012/460419
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    • "For instance, Ironson and colleagues (2002) found that greater spirituality associated with longer survival among people with HIV/AIDS was mediated by cortisol (Ironson et al. 2002). Also a higher number of circulating helper and cytotoxic T cells were found in women with metastatic breast cancer who reported greater spirituality (Sephton et al. 2001). Another theme that emerged from our research was the temporality of life and the subsequent heightened awareness of mortality. "
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    ABSTRACT: Utilizing qualitative methods, this study describes the perceptions of and reliance on spirituality among indigent Latino men with prostate cancer. Sixty men were interviewed in Spanish. Transcripts were transcribed verbatim, translated, and analyzed using grounded theory techniques. Common across all men was a process involving the formation of an alliance of support that included God, doctors, and self. From this alliance, men drew strength to manage their disease, maintained hope for the future, and found new existential meaning. By recognizing the potential value of this alliance, health care professionals may tap into a beneficial empowering resource for some Latino men.
    Journal of Religion and Health 07/2010; 51(3):752-62. DOI:10.1007/s10943-010-9369-0 · 1.02 Impact Factor
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