Samantha Bier, Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies
"Associations Among Exercise, Salivary Cortisol, and Health Outcomes in Patients with Breast Cancer: A Pilot Study"
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lyanne McGuire and Dr. Lynnda Dahlquist
Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2009
This study will investigate the biological and psychological effects of exercise in women who have a current diagnosis of breast cancer. Cortisol samples will be collected from approximately 30 breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Participants will be selected based on reported levels of physical activity. We expect to find that breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy who participate in regular strenuous exercise will show a healthier cortisol rhythm, a more normal daily cortisol output, and experience less psychological distress while controlling for depression compared with sedentary patients. Studying the relationships among cancer, exercise, and cortisol will fill the void in research linking these variables, and also clarify one possible mechanism by which exercise has an effect on cancer outcomes.