Yoga Improves Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Cancer patients have better quality lives incorporating yoga

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Breathing and relaxing are important techniques to control stress; less stress means more happiness; and more happiness is good for everyone! Yoga has hit its stride and seems to be in vogue in exercise circles these days.

Of course, it's only been around for thousands of years. No matter. It's good for every body.

Researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center now know that yoga helps to reduce fatigue, improve physical function, and lower stress in breast cancer patients.

"Yoga helps breast cancer patients feel better during treatment."

Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., a professor and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson, performed a study to determine the benefits yoga had on breast cancer patients receiving radiation therapy.

There were 163 women, all of whom had stage 0-3 breast cancer. The women were divided into three groups: 1) practiced yoga; 2) practiced simple stretching; 3) had no instructions for yoga or stretching.

Groups 1 and 2 practiced yoga or stretching one hour a day for three days a week for six weeks while they were undergoing radiation therapy.

Cohen and colleagues found the group who practiced yoga had reduced their levels of cortisol the most. Cortisol is the so-called "stress hormone". And the more cortisol, the more stress and vice versa. These findings were particularly important because higher levels of cortisol throughout the day is linked to poorer outcomes in breast cancer.

Researchers found that participants who practiced yoga or stretching experienced less fatigue, a common side effect of radiation therapy. They also found that women who practiced yoga in the experiment were more likely to report positive physical functioning and general health.

Exercising and eating right are not the only ways to improve health. Having a positive outlook on life is also important and yoga can help.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 27, 2011
Last Updated:
May 31, 2011