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Yoga Benefits Women with Breast Cancer

Friday, February 27, 2009 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: yoga, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) In a study just published in the journal Psycho-Oncology, researchers conclude they've found a treatment that resulted in a 50% reduction in depression and a 12% increase in feelings of peace and meaning in women with breast cancer. The successful treatment isn't a new type of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drug. In fact, it isn't a drug at all -- it's the ancient healing and exercise system known as yoga.

Wake Forest University School of Medicine scientists conducted a randomized study of 44 women, all with breast cancer; 34% were actively undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy while the rest of the majority had already completed therapy. Half took a ten week program of 75 minute Restorative Yoga (RY) classes and half were in the waitlist control group. RY is a gentle type of yoga similar to other forms of yoga classes that gently moves the spine in all directions. Blankets, cushions, bolsters, and any other needed props provide support that results in deep relaxation with minimal physical exertion, allowing people at virtually any level of health to practice yoga more easily.

The women in both groups completed a questionnaire to assess the quality of their lives at the beginning and end of the ten week program. According to the Wake Forest research team, the results showed that the women who had been given the RY classes experienced significantly more benefits than the control group (who were later all invited to participate in identical RY classes).

Specifically, the yoga group was found to have improvements in mental health including depression, positive emotions, and spirituality (defined as feeling calm and peaceful) compared to the control group. In fact, the scientists found that women who started the yoga classes with higher negative emotions and lower emotional well-being experienced the most benefits from the gentle yoga exercises compared to the control group. In addition, while women in the control group did not report a change in their fatigue levels, the women taking yoga classes demonstrated a significant improvement in fatigue symptoms.

"Evidence from systematic reviews of randomized trials is quite strong that mind-body therapies improve mood, quality of life, and treatment-related symptoms in people with cancer. Yoga is one mind-body therapy that is widely available and involves relatively reasonable costs," Suzanne Danhauer, Ph.D., who headed the Wake Forest University School of Medicine research team, said in a statement to the media. "Given the high levels of stress and distress that many women with breast cancer experience, the opportunity to experience feeling more peaceful and calm in the midst of breast cancer is a significant benefit."

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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