Breast Cancer Survivors Could Benefit from Yoga, Study Says

A new study conducted by UCLA researchers suggests that yoga could help breast-cancer survivors overcome post-treatment fatigue that can affect as many as one-third of them.

The research, which was published December 16 in the journal Cancer, discovered that after three months worth of twice-weekly yoga classes, “a group of breast cancer survivors in California reported significantly diminished fatigue and increased ‘vigor,” Andrew M. Seaman of Reuters Health said on Friday.

“A control group of women who took classes in post-cancer health issues, but didn’t do yoga, had no changes in their fatigue or depression levels,” he added.
Thirty-one breast-cancer survivors took part in the UCLA study, which lasted 12 weeks at the university’s medical center. According to Seaman, each participant was randomly assigned to take part in either a pair of 90-minute yoga sessions or a single two-hour health class each week.

“At the start of the study, each group of women had similar scores on a questionnaire that gauges fatigue levels,” the AP reporter said. “The group taking the educational classes experienced about the same amount of fatigue and energy throughout the initial study period.”

“However, the group taking the yoga class reported about a 26 percent drop in fatigue and a 55 percent increase in energy after the 12-week yoga regimen,” he added. “The women in the yoga group also continued to report significant improvements in fatigue levels three months after the classes stopped.”

In the abstract of their study, authors Julienne E. Bower, Deborah Garet, Beth Sternlieb, Patricia A. Ganz, Michael R. Irwin, Richard Olmstead, and Gail Greendale said that the severity of the yoga group’s fatigue levels “declined significantly from baseline to post-treatment and over a 3-month follow-up in the yoga group relative to controls.”

“In addition, the yoga group had significant increases in vigor relative to controls,” they added, noting that “both groups had positive changes in depressive symptoms and perceived stress and that “no significant changes in sleep or physical performance were observed.”

While Seaman points out that the findings do not prove that yoga was the reason that the fatigue levels in the study group improved, the researchers said that the expectations of the potential benefits of their respective treatments were similar and that as a result, the placebo effect is not believed to be a possible explanation for the benefits witnessed in the yoga group.

A December 30 UPI article discusses a similar study, published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research, which discovered that a form of meditation that also incorporates yoga can help breast-cancer survivors “improve their emotional and physical well-being.”

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, concluded that “breast cancer survivors who learned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction lowered their blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate, and their mood improved,” the news organization said.

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