Blogs may smooth ups, downs of breast cancer: study

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Results from a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggest that creating a personal website, or blog, may help women with breast cancer to battle depression symptoms.

While having an outlet during a difficult time is thought to be therapeutic, this is the first randomized clinical trial to assess the actual benefit, wrote researchers from the University of California Los Angeles.

100 women—recruited from BreastLink, a network of cancer centers—were split into two groups. Half were enrolled in a workshop which gave them hands-on instruction in creating a site with WordPress. The other half were told they were wait-listed for the workshop. The women were assessed before they were randomized and six months after they split.

Six months in, the blogger group showed “significant benefit” in their depressive symptoms, life appreciation and a more positive mood, researchers said. However, there was no reported difference on the perceived strength of their relationships, the impact of negative moods or “intrusive thoughts.” The biggest change in mood was observed in patients currently undergoing therapy—compared to those who had completed treatment.

The study's lead author, Anette Stanton of UCLA, told Reuters Health that the websites were helpful for women to “be able to truly tell their story, express emotions and communicate with others without having to repeat information about their diagnosis and treatment.”

Results were “encouraging,” said co-author James Waisman, as reported by Reuters, adding that “it's a small sample size and...needs to be confirmed and reproduced.”

The National Cancer Institute estimates that as many as a quarter of cancer patients suffer from depression.

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