Targeting chronic stress for colorectal cancer risk reduction: a pilot feasibility study among vulnerable at-risk Black females

The Story

Chronic stress can directly and indirectly promote carcinogenesis through immune, metabolic, and microbial pathways. Our overarching hypothesis is that reducing chronic stress will have important implications for CRC risk reduction among vulnerable and high-risk populations. A promising approach for reducing chronic stress is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). MBSR is a meditation-based technique to achieve a state of mind that is used to experience higher awareness or consciousness. Existing small studies suggest MBSR may positively regulate stress response in a way that translates to anti-cancer effects including reduced inflammation.

What We’re Doing

We propose here to test an 8-week MBSR intervention delivered in a hybrid format (synchronous and asynchronous sessions) among 40 Black females at elevated risk of CRC, who reside in vulnerable communities and who report moderate to high perceived stress. At baseline and post-intervention, participants will provide blood and stool and undergo body composition analysis and complete mood and lifestyle related surveys. The specific aims are to: test the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention and evaluate the preliminary effect on stress and weight, fasting glucose, inflammation markers, and the gut microbiome – risk markers and risk pathways associated with CRC. While relieving social stressors is the paramount goal, addressing chronic stress at the individual level is achievable now, with implications for CRC risk reduction. If successful, data generated here will serve in developing a fully powered trial to test if MBSR is efficacious for CRC risk reduction among high-risk vulnerable populations in Chicago.

(2023) Full Project #2 – Research Team & Partners

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Alana Biggers, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Division of Academic Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine
  • Lisa Tussing-Humphreys, PhD, RD, Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, College of Applied Health Sciences
  • Keith Naylor, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine

Northwestern University

  • Betina Yanez, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Medical Social Sciences, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

Northeastern Illinois University

  • Emily Booms, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Biology

Community Partner: Wellness House

  • Maigenete Mengesha, PhD, Director of Cancer Health Equity, Wellness House

Study Results

Study is underway. Please check back for study updates and results! Contact us to learn more or to get involved.

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