Cognitive impairment is often related with cancer, and may limit the quality of life in cancer patients and survivors. Abnormal neurologic structure and function have been reported in cancer patients. Researchers at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center studied the reports on cognitive impairment, meditation, and cancer (Biegler et al., 2009). They suggested that meditation practice may help improve cognitive function, and a meditation program can be beneficial for cancer-related cognitive deficits.
Although pharmacotherapies such as methylphenidate or modafinil may be able to relieve cognitive deficits, they often have serious side effects (Biegler et al., 2009). In addition, these drugs usually cannot help improve complicated symptoms such as sleep disturbance, nausea and pain.
On the other hand, meditation programs have been reported to regulate behavioral and corresponding neurophysiological functions, and relieve cancer-related cognitive impairment (Biegler et al., 2009). Furthermore, meditation programs may alleviate stress, fatigue, nausea and pain. These programs can also improve mood and sleep quality.
The study of the researchers indicates that meditation can be a useful intervention to alleviate cancer-related cognitive dysfunction, and may be a potential adjuvant to cancer therapies (Biegler et al., 2009). Further studies and clinical trials are necessary to confirm these findings and to understand the mechanisms of meditation on health.
Biegler, K. A., Chaoul, M. A., et al. (2009) Cancer, cognitive impairment, and meditation. Acta Oncol 48, 18-26.