(NaturalNews) Mind-body therapies can help cancer patients, and yoga has been shown in numerous studies to help improve the physical and emotional well being of cancer sufferers, raising quality of life both during and after treatment.
Improved quality of life, overall health and physical functioning; reduced stress
For example, a 2011 study by researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that yoga helped to improve the quality of life in women who were undergoing radiation therapy for their breast cancers. Other than reduced fatigue, the ladies also experienced improvements in their overall health and physical functioning as well as reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This latter benefit is significant because elevated stress hormone levels throughout the day could worsen breast cancer outcomes.
In addition, yoga helped the patients to find meaning in their cancer experience.
The study, which was conducted together with India's largest yoga research institution, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore, involved 163 women with up to stage 3 breast cancer. Their average age was 52 and they were randomly assigned to groups doing yoga, simple stretching, or neither. The yoga and stretching sessions took place three times per week, one hour each time.
"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, Ph.D., professor and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson.
Practicing yoga would also benefit cancer sufferers after treatment, added Cohen.
Better quality of life, physical health, energy and happiness; lowered stress and anxiety
Another two-year study published in 2010 in Cancer Nursing found that a specialized Iyengar yoga program for breast cancer survivors helped to improve their quality of life (94 percent reported improvements); make them feel better physically (88 percent); lower their levels of tiredness (80 percent); and make them feel happier (87 percent).
The study subjects also experienced improved body image and reduced levels of anxiety, stress and depression.
Researchers from the University of Alberta had put study subjects through 10 weeks of Iyengar yoga.
Lowered fatigue and depression; more peace and feelings of meaning
A 2009 study published in Psycho-Oncology found that Restorative Yoga classes helped to improve mental health among breast cancer sufferers.
About a third of the study subjects were still undergoing treatment, while the rest had completed it. The study found that the women who took part in 75-minute yoga sessions for 10 weeks experienced reduced fatigue, a 50 percent drop in depression, and a 12 percent elevation in feelings of meaning and peace as compared to the women who did not.
Restorative yoga is a gentle type of yoga which is not too different from other types of yoga.
Reduced inflammation and fatigue
More recent research conducted at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that yoga helped to reduce inflammation and fatigue among breast cancer survivors. This is significant as chronic inflammation is linked to many ailments, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer itself.
Breast cancer sufferers often go through draining and debilitating treatment. With its various beneficial elements - from breathing, to stretching and strengthening, and even meditation - it's not difficult to see how yoga can be very helpful. In fact, just promoting better sleep would already play a great part in improving health. What's more, when it is properly carried out, yoga does not come with adverse side effects. It is also widely available and relatively affordable.