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Yoga Improves Quality of Life After Radiation Therapy

Posted Jun 03 2011 9:26am
Just last week we talked about many of the links between stress and breast cancer .  There appears to be clear evidence that stress, particularly stressful early life events, increases breast cancer risk.  Additionally, research results show that stress reduces the quality of life in breast cancer survivors and can worsen breast cancer outcomes.  This clearly suggests that reducing stress is an important part of the new lifestyle that breast cancer patients need to adopt.  There are many ways we can reduce the stress in our lives, but new research suggests that yoga has many benefits for breast cancer survivors .

In this new study from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, investigators asked 163 breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy to take part in a study where they would be assigned to one of three groups.  One group took yoga classes for one hour three days a week during their 6 weeks of radiation therapy.  A second group took simple stretching classes and a third group received no yoga or stretching instruction.  Breast cancer patients were asked about several aspects of their quality of life including fatigue, daily functioning, mood and more at 1, 3, and 6 months after treatment.  Additionally, the main stress hormone, cortisol, was measured at these time points.  The results of this study outlined some of the benefits of yogo for breast cancer patients...
  • Patients receiving instruction in yoga and in simple stretching exercises showed a substantial decrease in fatigue.
  • At each time point assessed, breast cancer patients in the yoga group reported more improved physical functioning and general health than patients in the stretching and no instruction groups.
  • Breast cancer patients taking yoga classes were more likely to perceive positive life changes from their breast cancer experience.
  • Yoga instruction resulted in a greater decrease in cortisol than either simple stretching or no instruction.
This is a truly interesting study that demonstrates the potential benefits of yoga for breast cancer patients.  Considering the importance of reducing stress in breast cancer patients, yoga might have an important role in breast cancer patients' treatment strategy.  While simple stretching exercises appeared to have some benefits in regards to reducing cancer-associated fatigue, the benefits of yoga extended beyond the benefits of simple stretching exercises.  The study investigators attribute these additional benefits of yoga to the mind-body interactions that are an essential part of yoga, things like yogic breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques.  Since the breast cancer patients instructed in yoga showed a clear decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, it is apparent that yoga has biological effects that can benefit breast cancer patients.

To learn about other diet and lifestyle choices to reduce your breast cancer risk, read my FREE book FIGHT NOW: EAT & LIVE PROACTIVELY AGAINST BREAST CANCER . Please recommend to anyone interested in breast cancer, breast cancer treatment, and breast cancer symptoms.
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