Yoga may help patients during breast cancer treatment
Breast cancer patients who are undergoing radiation therapy may reap both short- and long-term health benefits from practicing yoga, according to new research.
Scientists from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center recruited almost 200 women who had either stage 1, 2 or 3 breast cancer. The women were placed into one of three groups—one that was instructed to practice yoga, one that practiced simple stretching and one that did not practice yoga or stretching. Throughout the study, the researchers had the women answer questions about fatigue, depression, sleep quality, ability to function and their overall quality of life. Researchers also measured the women’s levels of cortisol—or the “stress hormone”—at both the beginning and end of the study period.
The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, showed that the women in the yoga group had the biggest drop in cortisol levels and reduction in fatigue, and they also were more able to “find meaning in their experience of illness” than were the women in the two other groups. Additionally, the researchers found that the women who practiced yoga during the study reported the best general health and functioning six months after the study.
According to the research team involved in the study, practicing yoga may benefit breast cancer patients while they are undergoing radiation therapy, as well as help them experience a better quality of life post-therapy. Researchers are now conducting a more advanced trial to better understand the long-term physical, biological and mental effects of yoga on women with breast cancer.