The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting was held in Seattle, Washington on February 12-16, 2004. As part of the focus on "Science at the Leading Edge" the Basic Biobehavioral Research Program in the Behavioral Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences of the National Cancer Institute sponsored a symposium "Biology and Behavior: New pathways to cancer control".
The symposium included three presentations focusing upon biobehavioral research and cancer control. The first focused upon the critical area of smoking cessation. Specifically, data was presented on the role of hypothalamic-pituiary-adrenocortical (HPA) responses to stress and negative affect as predictors of smoking relapse. Results indicate that the HPA response to stress does indeed predict relapse. The second presentation investigated the relationship between abnormal diurnal cortisol slope and disease status, survival, perceived stress and emotional regulation in women with metastatic breast cancer. This research highlighted exciting linkages between cortisol slope and clinical outcomes. The final presentation examined the effects of stress and stress management interventions on quality of life, physiological functioning, and physical health in Human Immunodeficiency Virus positive (HIV+) women at risk for cervical cancer. Research has found that cognitive-behavioral stress management (CBSM) interventions resulted in reductions in circulating cortisol levels, greater reconstitution of immune repertoire, and improvements in immunological control of Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2).
All presentations described work linking psychological variables and/or behavior with biology and highlighted the potential impact on clinical status and patient care within the cancer control continuum. The first presentation focused upon cancer prevention (smoking), the second presentation addressed cancer development in an immunocompromised host (HIV+/HPV+ women and cervical cancer), and the third presentation examined cancer morbidity and survival among advanced breast cancer patients. The presentations included background information needed to inform those not familiar with these areas of research, and related how the work discussed potentially translates to direct clinical care of cancer patients and those at risk of developing cancer. Speakers were recognized experts in the areas noted and well funded by the National Institutes of Health and other funding agencies for their work in biobehavioral research in cancer.
Mustafa Al'Absi, Ph.D.
Department of Behavioral Sciences
University of Minnesota School of Medicine
Dr. Al'Absi presented a series of studies completed by his research team focused on assessing hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal changes during the first two days of a smoking cessation attempt to determine the extent to which these changes predict smoking relapse. In addition to showing a relationship, results also supported the hypothesis that, in women, intensity of withdrawal symptoms and negative affect predict smoking relapse better than hormonal measures.
Michael Antoni, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Psychology
University of Miami
Dr. Antoni presented his work utilizing group-based CBSM interventions with women at risk of developing cervical cancer as a function of co-infection with HIV and HPV. Dr. Antoni has demonstrated that greater stressful life events predict a greater likelihood of developing squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL), a precursor of cervical cancer, and a greater likelihood of having an outbreak of genital herpes in HIV+HPV+ women.
David Spiegel, M.D.
Jack, Lulu and Sam Wilson Professor in the School of Medicine
Associate Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Stanford University School of Medicine
Based on previous findings, Dr. Spiegel presented his ongoing work exploring the hypothesis that emotional regulation might be an important link to circadian cortisol disruption in women with metastatic breast cancer, and potentially related to morbidity and mortality in this population.