Reduction in salivary α-amylase levels following a mind-body intervention in cancer survivors--an exploratory study

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Sep;38(9):1521-31. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.12.021. Epub 2013 Feb 1.


Objective: The main aim of this exploratory study was to assess whether salivary α-amylase (sAA) and salivary cortisol levels would be positively modulated by sleep-focused mind-body interventions in female and male cancer survivors.

Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial in which 57 cancer survivors with self-reported sleep disturbance received either a Sleep Hygiene Education (SHE; n=18) control, or one of two experimental mind-body interventions, namely, Mind-Body Bridging (MBB; n=19) or Mindfulness Meditation (MM; n=20). Interventions were three sessions each conducted once per week for three consecutive weeks. Saliva cortisol and sAA were measured at baseline and 1 week after the last session. Participants also completed a sleep scale at the same time points when saliva was collected for biomarker measurement.

Results: Our study revealed that at post-intervention assessment, mean sAA levels upon awakening ("Waking" sample) declined in MBB compared with that of SHE. Mean Waking cortisol levels did not differ among treatment groups but declined slightly in SHE. Self-reported sleep improved across the three interventions at Post-assessment, with largest improvements in the MBB intervention.

Conclusion: In this exploratory study, sleep focused mind-body intervention (MBB) attenuated Waking sAA levels, suggesting positive influences of a mind-body intervention on sympathetic activity in cancer survivors with sleep disturbance.

Trial registration: NCT00935376.

Keywords: Biomarker; Cancer survivor; Mind–body intervention; Salivary cortisol; Salivary α-amylase; Sleep disturbance; Stress; Sympathetic nervous system.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Dyssomnias / etiology
  • Dyssomnias / physiopathology
  • Dyssomnias / psychology
  • Dyssomnias / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Male
  • Meditation
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Mindfulness / education*
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Psychophysiology
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Salivary alpha-Amylases / analysis*
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wakefulness / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Salivary alpha-Amylases
  • Hydrocortisone

Associated data