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The Cancer Prevention and Control Program


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Circadian Biology

We here at the Cancer Prevention and Control Program are very interested in how normal and disrupted circadian rhythms affect a person's general health and whether disrupted or altered sleep patterns are a risk factor for various types of cancer. Our researchers are currently performing novel research in this area, which has received growing attention in the public health research community recently.

Ongoing and Completed Studies

Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback in Pain Patients: Pilot Intervention for Pain, Fatigue and Sleep

Co-Principal Investigator: Jim Burch

Funding Source: US Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Research and Development, Clinical Science Research and Development Program

Study Period: 4/1/153/31/19

This randomized, sham-controlled, pilot intervention trial will examine whether heart rate variability biofeedback improves parasympathetic tone and ameliorates pain, stress and insomnia among Veteran patients with chronic, neuromusculoskeletal pain.

Use of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback for Symptom Management Among Cancer Survivors: Pilot Intervention

Principal Investigator: Jim Burch

Funding Source: Greenville Health System Cancer Institute

Study Period: 3/1/153/31/16

This study will test the hypothesis that heart rate variability biofeedback (HRV-B) restores autonomic balance and has the effect of reducing pain and related symptoms among cancer survivors. The specific aims are to: (1) conduct a randomized, controlled, pilot intervention trial to determine whether HRV-B increases HRV coherence among cancer survivors (minimum N of 20 [10 per group], up to 100 total [50 per group]); (2) determine whether HRV-B reduces pain, stress, fatigue, depression or insomnia among cancer survivors; and (3) determine whether an increase in HRV coherence reduces pain, stress, fatigue, depression or insomnia in the study population.

Sleep Disruption Among Veterans: Implications for Cancer Risk

Principal Investigator: Jim Burch

Funding Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research and Development

Study Period: 1/1/109/30/14

This retrospective cohort study utilizde pre-existing, de-identified data to test the hypothesis that sleep disorder diagnoses among Veterans are associated with an increased incidence of prostate, breast, colorectal or total cancer.

Epigenetics and Diet in the Carcinogenesis Process

Co-Principal Investigators: Susan Steck and Jim Burch

Funding Source: National Cancer Institute

Study Period: 5/1/084/30/12

This case-control study examined whether circadian disruption or dietary factors influence methylation of specific cancer-related genes, including clock genes, among individuals with adenomatous polyps and controls.