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Yoga Improves Quality of Life in Women with Breast Cancer Undergoing Radiation Therapy

Yoga Improves Quality of Life in Women with Breast Cancer Undergoing Radiation Therapy

For women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy, yoga offers unique benefits beyond fighting fatigue, according to new research from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

While simple stretching exercises improved fatigue, patients who participated in yoga that incorporated yogic breathing, postures, meditation and relaxation techniques into their treatment plan experienced improved physical functioning, better general health and lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. They also were better able to find meaning in their cancer experience.

The findings, to be presented at the 47th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology by Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson, are the latest in an ongoing effort to scientifically validate the age-old belief that mind-body interventions have a beneficial impact on the health of cancer patients. The research was conducted in collaboration with India's largest yoga research institution, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore, India.

The study assessed, for the first time, yoga benefits to cancer patients by comparing their experience with patients in an active control group who integrated simple, generic stretching exercises into their lives. "The combination of mind and body practices that are part of yoga clearly have tremendous potential to help patients manage the psychosocial and physical distress associated with treatment and life after cancer, beyond the benefits of simple stretching," said Cohen.

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