Breast cancer patients have improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage therapy

Maria Hernandez-Reif, Gail Ironson, Tiffany M Field, Judith Hurley, Galia Katz, Miguel A Diego, Sharlene Weiss, Mary Ann Fletcher, Saul Schanberg, Cynthia Kuhn, Iris Burman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

126 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: Women with breast cancer are at risk for elevated depression, anxiety, and decreased natural killer (NK) cell number. Stress has been linked to increased tumor development by decreasing NK cell activity. The objectives of this study included examining massage therapy for women with breast cancer for (1) improving mood and biological measures associated with mood enhancement (serotonin, dopamine), (2) reducing stress and stress hormone levels, and (3) boosting immune measures. Methods: Thirty-four women (M age=53) diagnosed with Stage 1 or 2 breast cancer were randomly assigned postsurgery to a massage therapy group (to receive 30-min massages three times per week for 5 weeks) or a control group. The massage consisted of stroking, squeezing, and stretching techniques to the head, arms, legs/feet, and back. On the first and last day of the study, the women were assessed on (1) immediate effects measures of anxiety, depressed mood, and vigor and (2) longer term effects on depression, anxiety and hostility, functioning, body image, and avoidant versus intrusive coping style, in addition to urinary catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine) and serotonin levels. A subset of 27 women (n=15 massage) had blood drawn to assay immune measures. Results: The immediate massage therapy effects included reduced anxiety, depressed mood, and anger. The longer term massage effects included reduced depression and hostility and increased urinary dopamine, serotonin values, NK cell number, and lymphocytes. Conclusions: Women with Stage 1 and 2 breast cancer may benefit from thrice-weekly massage therapy for reducing depressed mood, anxiety, and anger and for enhancing dopamine, serotonin, and NK cell number and lymphocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2004

Fingerprint

Massage
Breast Neoplasms
Anxiety
Natural Killer Cells
Dopamine
Serotonin
Hostility
Cell Count
Anger
Depression
Lymphocytes
Body Image
Epinephrine
Catecholamines
Foot
Leg
Norepinephrine
Arm
Head
Hormones

Keywords

  • Breast cancer
  • Depression
  • Massage therapy
  • Natural killer cell number
  • Serotonin
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Breast cancer patients have improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage therapy. / Hernandez-Reif, Maria; Ironson, Gail; Field, Tiffany M; Hurley, Judith; Katz, Galia; Diego, Miguel A; Weiss, Sharlene; Fletcher, Mary Ann; Schanberg, Saul; Kuhn, Cynthia; Burman, Iris.

In: Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Vol. 57, No. 1, 01.07.2004, p. 45-52.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hernandez-Reif, Maria ; Ironson, Gail ; Field, Tiffany M ; Hurley, Judith ; Katz, Galia ; Diego, Miguel A ; Weiss, Sharlene ; Fletcher, Mary Ann ; Schanberg, Saul ; Kuhn, Cynthia ; Burman, Iris. / Breast cancer patients have improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage therapy. In: Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2004 ; Vol. 57, No. 1. pp. 45-52.
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abstract = "Objectives: Women with breast cancer are at risk for elevated depression, anxiety, and decreased natural killer (NK) cell number. Stress has been linked to increased tumor development by decreasing NK cell activity. The objectives of this study included examining massage therapy for women with breast cancer for (1) improving mood and biological measures associated with mood enhancement (serotonin, dopamine), (2) reducing stress and stress hormone levels, and (3) boosting immune measures. Methods: Thirty-four women (M age=53) diagnosed with Stage 1 or 2 breast cancer were randomly assigned postsurgery to a massage therapy group (to receive 30-min massages three times per week for 5 weeks) or a control group. The massage consisted of stroking, squeezing, and stretching techniques to the head, arms, legs/feet, and back. On the first and last day of the study, the women were assessed on (1) immediate effects measures of anxiety, depressed mood, and vigor and (2) longer term effects on depression, anxiety and hostility, functioning, body image, and avoidant versus intrusive coping style, in addition to urinary catecholamines (norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine) and serotonin levels. A subset of 27 women (n=15 massage) had blood drawn to assay immune measures. Results: The immediate massage therapy effects included reduced anxiety, depressed mood, and anger. The longer term massage effects included reduced depression and hostility and increased urinary dopamine, serotonin values, NK cell number, and lymphocytes. Conclusions: Women with Stage 1 and 2 breast cancer may benefit from thrice-weekly massage therapy for reducing depressed mood, anxiety, and anger and for enhancing dopamine, serotonin, and NK cell number and lymphocytes.",
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AU - Weiss, Sharlene

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