Washington: A new research from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has indicated that for women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy, yoga offers unique benefits beyond fighting fatigue.
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 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 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 Lorenzo Cohen, professor and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson.
According to Cohen, developing a yoga practice also helps patients after completing cancer treatment.
"The transition from active therapy back to everyday life can be very stressful as patients no longer receive the same level of medical care and attention. Teaching patients a mind-body technique like yoga as a coping skill can make the transition less difficult," said Cohen.
The study will be presented next month in an oral session at the 47th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.