Practicing yoga for as little as three months can reduce fatigue and lower inflammation in breast cancer survivors, according to new research. The more the women in the study practiced yoga, the better their results.
At the six-month point of the study – three months after the formal yoga practice had ended – results showed that on average, fatigue was 57 percent lower in women who had practiced yoga compared to the non-yoga group, and their inflammation was reduced by up to 20 percent.
The participants had completed all breast cancer treatments before the start of the study and only yoga novices were recruited for the randomized, controlled clinical trial.
Participants practiced yoga in small groups twice a week for 12 weeks. Women making up the control group were wait-listed to receive the same yoga sessions once the trial was over. During the study, they were instructed to go about their normal routines and not to do yoga.
“This showed that modest yoga practice over a period of several months could have substantial benefits for breast cancer survivors,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
“We also think the results could easily generalize to other groups of people who have issues with fatigue and inflammation,” said Kiecolt-Glaser, also an investigator in Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.
Though many studies have suggested that yoga has numerous benefits, this is the largest known randomized controlled trial that includes biological measures, Kiecolt-Glaser said. Researchers recruited 200 women for the study.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The research team focused on breast cancer survivors because the rigors of treatment can be so taxing on patients.
Source: Ohio State University, USA