PNI proponents claim stress is implicated in in the development course and outcome of cancer and behavioral interventions to reduce stress can be an important tool to treat and cure cancer, or at least extend the lives of cancer patients.
Psychoneuroimmunology as a "Hot Area"
Any true advances would be highly significant.
Standards are relaxed for deciding that a particular hypothesis had been confirmed.
Standards are relaxed for deciding that a previous finding had been replicated.
As a consequence, supposed positive findings often cannot be replicated.
You could measure how much money the Tooth Fairy leaves under the pillow, whether she leaves more cash for the first or last tooth, whether the payoff is greater if you leave the tooth in a plastic baggie versus wrapped in Kleenex. You can get all kinds of good data that is reproducible and statistically significant. Yes, you have learned something. But you haven’t learned what you think you’ve learned, because you haven’t bothered to establish whether the Tooth Fairy really exists.
Studies relating stress exposure to cancer incidence, progression, and outcome suffer from numerous methodological problems, and the better the study methodologically, the closer the hazards ratios cluster around null 1.0.
Coyne JC, Stefanek M, Palmer SC. Psychotherapy and survival in cancer: the conflict between hope and evidence. Psychol Bull. 2007;133:367-394. No trial has ever found that psychotherapy improved the median survival time of women with metastatic breast cancer. No trial in which survival was chosen as the outcome of interest ahead of time has demonstrated a survival effect for patients with any type of cancer, when psychotherapy was not confounded with improved medical surveillance or treatment.
“ The results suggest that we can help breast cancer patients make positive steps that may help them live longer and make recurrence less likely. We already knew a psychological intervention program could help breast cancer patients to handle their stress, function more effectively, and improve their health. Now we know it does even more. ” Andersen, B. L., H. C. Yang, et al. (2008). "Psychologic Intervention Improves Survival for Breast Cancer Patients A Randomized Clinical Trial." Cancer 113(12): 3450-3458.
No survival effect found in simple analyses , claims depend on inappropriate multivariate analyses.
No differences between intervention and control groups in recurrence or survival.
Psychosocial intervention consisting of a mixture of relaxation training, problem solving and health behavior promotion.
Null and weak results across 8 measures of mood (n o effects on mood ), 15 measures of immune function, and 4 measures of adherence.
A Closer look at Andersen, et al. (2008). Cancer 113(12): 3450-3458.
Psychosocial Intervention, Immune Function, and Progression of Cancer: Unproven Medicine
Weak or no effects, but positive results emphasized, strong confirmatory bias in reporting new results and recounting of past studies. Doubtful clinical significance even if results were obtained. Confused, simplistic view of role of immune system in cancer progression. Claims That Psychosocial Intervention Strengthens the Immune System
Miller GE, Cohen S. Psychological interventions and the immune system: A meta-analytic review and critique. Health Psychology. Jan 2001;20(1):47-63. Each of the measures used in this literature represents only a small facet of a complex, highly redundant system. It would therefore be inappropriate to conclude that intervention-related changes in any specific immune parameter signal a state of "immune enhancement" or altered susceptibility to immune-mediated disease. The normal functioning range for most immune measures is very broad, and psychological interventions typically do not induce changes of sufficient magnitude to move people outside of these boundaries (p. 48).
Cancer is not one but many diseases likely to have multiple etiologies with a long course of development.
By the time that cancer can be detected and diagnosed, there have may have been numerous cascades such that biological processes cannot be reversed, and interventions in the biology of cancer may have very different effects than before the cascade was reached.
Therapeutic touch (TT) is a type of energy medicine whereby the therapist moves his or her hands over the patient’s “energy field,” allegedly directing the flow of chi or prana so the patient can heal. TT is based on the belief that each living thing has a “life energy field” which extends beyond the surface of the body and generates an aura.
This energy field can become unbalanced, misaligned, obstructed, or out of tune.
Energy healers think they can feel and manipulate this energy field by making movements that resemble massaging the air a few inches above the surface of the patient’s body.
Energy healers also think that they can transfer some of their own life energy to the patient. These airy manipulations allegedly restore the energy field to a state of balance or harmony, to a proper alignment, or they unblock a clog in the field or transfer life energy from healer to patient. This restoration of integrity to the field is thought to make it possible for the body to heal itself.
TT. Hands-on healing, beginning with hands on feet, then knees, hips, bladder area, stomach, hands, elbows, shoulders, heart, throat, head, and back to the heart.
Mock Touch. Skeptical scientists trained to use identical hand placements as biofield healers, except asked not to intend to heal the patient when touching, rather to contemplate current and upcoming research-oriented studies and grants they were currently involved in.
Chosen by Reverend Rosalyn L. Bruyere, Founder and Director of the Healing Light Center Church. She has studied extensively in areas of Egyptian temple symbology, Sacred geometry, ancient Mystery School rites, international shamanic practices, the pre-Buddhist Tibetan Bon-Po Ways, and various Native American Medicine traditions.