November 2, 2023
In this episode, Wendy speaks with psychosocial oncology researcher Linda Carlson. Linda has pioneered the application of mindfulness and contemplative practice for cancer patients, focusing on both psychological and biological outcomes. This conversation covers many topics, including:
- her path to integrating psychology, mindfulness, and cancer;
- early clinical trials and positive outcomes;
- how and why meditation can help with the stress of cancer;
- problems with battle metaphors related to cancer;
- opportunities to re-evaluate self and identity;
- connecting with boundlessness and interdependence;
- living well vs. living long;
- study design and control groups in meditation research;
- effects of mindfulness on cellular aging (telomeres);
- media coverage of meditation research;
- the power of preference in interventions;
- sneak preview of gene expression results;
- impacts on inflammation;
- increasing accessibility and diversity;
- working towards structural change in health care;
- and building an academic society for contemplative research.
Linda Carlson holds the Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology, is Full Professor in Psychosocial Oncology in the Department of Oncology at the University of Calgary School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology. She is the Director of Research and works as a clinical psychologist at the Department of Psychosocial Resources at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Linda’s research investigates the usefulness of a broad range of popular complementary interventions (e.g., mindfulness, meditation, yoga, exercise, acupuncture, Reiki, nutritional counseling and support groups) for cancer patients, focusing on psychological and biological outcomes such as quality of life, stress reduction, immune function, and stress hormones. Linda has published over 200 scientific papers and book chapters, and has received numerous awards for her research. She is a fellow both of the Society for Behavioral Medicine and the Mind & Life Institute, and is the President of the Society for Integrative Oncology. She also serves on the executive committee for the International Society for Contemplative Research.
- Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery Program
- TEDx talk: Mindfulness for Personal and Collective Evolution
- Review paper: The impact of mindfulness-based interventions on symptom burden, positive psychological outcomes, and biomarkers in cancer patients. Cancer Management and Research, 2015.
- Paper on telomeres with social support control: Mindfulness-based cancer recovery and supportive-expressive therapy maintain telomere length relative to controls in distressed breast cancer survivors. Cancer, 2015.
- New treatment guidelines: Integrative Oncology Care of Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in Adults With Cancer: Society for Integrative Oncology–ASCO Guideline, ASCO Special Articles, 2023.
- International Society for Contemplative Research