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Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 May;17(2):65-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2010.10.005. Epub 2010 Nov 26.

Changes in the cortisol awakening response (CAR) following participation in mindfulness-based stress reduction in women who completed treatment for breast cancer.

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Department of Medicine, McGill University, 687 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Changes in the cortisol awakening response (CAR) were studied in women participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program after completion of their medical treatment for breast cancer.


Thirty-three women completed questionnaires pre- and post-MBSR pertaining to: stress, depressive symptomatology, and medical symptoms. The CAR was assessed on 3 days pre- and 3 days post-MBSR as a biological marker of stress.


A significant effect on the CAR was found, with cortisol levels showing a prolonged increase after awakening at the post-MBSR assessment period. This was accompanied by significant improvements in self-reported stress levels, depressive symptomatology, and medical symptoms. Furthermore, the change in medical symptoms was negatively correlated with the area under the curve (AUC) at study onset (r = -.52, p < .002); i.e., the greater the AUC of the CAR before MBSR, the greater the reduction in medical symptoms after the program.


These results suggest the potential usefulness of employing the CAR as a biological marker in women with breast cancer participating in an MBSR program.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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