Benefits of yoga for breast cancer survivors
As little as three months of yoga can reduce fatigue and lower inflammation in breast cancer survivors, according to one study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Researchers recruited 200 women who had finished breast cancer treatment within the last three years and split them into two groups. The first group practiced yoga twice a week for 90 minutes, while the second group was placed on a waiting list for the same class and told not to do yoga in the meantime.
Each participant, who ranged in age from 27 to 76, was asked to complete questionnaires throughout the study on their quality of sleep and energy levels, as well as provide blood samples for the researchers to measure inflammation.
After three months, women in the yoga group reported that they had more vitality and were sleeping better. They showed an average reduction in fatigue of 57 percent and up to a 20 percent reduction in inflammation, compared to the wait-listed group.
And the longer they practiced yoga, the greater their improvements.
At the six-month mark, the women still practicing yoga reported nearly 60 percent less fatigue then the women on the waiting list, and their measures of inflammation were 13 to 20 percent lower.
“This showed that modest yoga practice over a period of several months could have substantial benefits for breast cancer survivors,” said lead study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, in a news release.
The researchers chose to focus on breast cancer survivors for their study because the treatment can be so taxing on the patients.
“One of the problems they face is a real reduction in cardiorespiratory fitness,” said Kiecolt-Glaser. “The treatment is so debilitating and they are so tired, and the less you do physically, the less you’re able to do. It’s a downward spiral.”
As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Carol Dieball, M.S., A.C.S.M., a cancer exercise specialist at the Advocate Condell Centre Club in Libertyville, Ill., knows the toll chemotherapy and radiation can have.
“After treatment, breast cancer patients are often left with bodies that are weakened and changed,” Dieball says. “However, yoga and other exercise is a way for women to take control of their bodies again. Participants in our cancer exercise program leave feeling balanced, strong and just plain good. ”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.