Yoga can help reduce pain and fatigue in breast cancer patients
Cancer doctors should be prescribing yoga to patients who are struggling to overcome pain and fatigue, experts say, after a new study has shown the popular pastime to carry clear medical benefit. The research – which followed 850 women with operable breast cancer – found that those who included yoga in their exercise routine reported their cancer to have a diminished impact on day-to-day living.
The findings – which were presented at the world’s biggest oncology conference in Chicago – showed fatigue scores to be down 21% in participants who practiced yoga regularly as part of a wider workout schedule, compared to those who did not include it in their exercise regime. They were also 61% less likely to say that their pain had worsened, 48% less likely to have mood problems and 31% less likely to feel that their cancer interfered with their daily activities.
Although previous research has linked yoga with lower levels of cortisol – a hormone linked to breast cancer – and an improved immune system, it’s true medical potential is only now being realised. Oncologist Dr Nita Nair, who led the study in Mumbai, said “[Yoga] encourages healthy mind and body practices that can be incorporated as a complimentary therapy.” Jane Murphy, clinical nurse specialist at UK charity Breast Cancer Care, also commented on the research.
“Fatigue is one of the most draining side effects people face during and after breast cancer treatment and can prevent them doing everyday things like going to work, seeing friends or caring for their children. So, the news that yoga and mindfulness could be additional ways in overcoming this obstacle, as well as others like ongoing pain and sleeplessness, is fantastic.”
“Everyone’s experience of treatment side effects will be different, so it’s important they have access to tailored information and support. Breast Cancer Care’s new app, BECCA, helps women to find out what works best for them as they start to move forward after treatment.”
A separate US study also found yoga to significantly boost the quality of sleep in cancer patients.
Photograph: © Unsplash
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