Sure yoga news seems to be taking over the world, but when just about every single media outlet picks up a story about yoga helping cancer patients, we say bring it on! A study at the University of Rochester has found that a 75 minute yoga practice twice a week has helped cancer survivors sleep better, fight fatigue and cut down on pills and medications as sleep aids. Good news!
And seriously… you can read all about it on CNN, ABC News, USA Today, Businessweek, TIME . The official paper, and results of the trial will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in June.
Called YOCAS, the four-week program involved sessions of hatha and restorative yoga twice a week for 75 minutes each, in combination with breathing exercises and meditation. Among the 410 participants, who were divided into yoga and traditional follow-up care groups, those practicing yoga recorded nearly double the improvement in sleep quality and reduction of fatigue compared to those not practicing yoga. They also reported better quality of life overall, Mustian says. “And the yoga group had all of these benefits while reducing their use of sleep medication,” she says.
Fantastic! This study is extra important not only because it’s the largest clinical trial of its kind so far, but because previously physicians haven’t typically been so comfortable pushing “alternative” or supplemental therapies like yoga beyond standard treatments. But now they can, with science!
“This trial will provide a solid contribution to the literature and provides good evidence that yoga may be an effective therapy to improve symptom control following a cancer diagnosis,” said Lee W. Jones, an exercise physiologist at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
Plus, the door is being opened for yoga as an acceptable exercise/”treatment” even outside of the hospital setting.
“This is groundbreaking,” said Kathryn Schmitz of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and author of soon-to-be-released guidelines on exercise in cancer survivors. Particularly exciting, Schmitz said, is the fact that this type of intervention can be applied in community settings based on oncologists’ recommendations, rather than just in hospitals or academic centers.
There is a smattering of other studies going on all across the country, the most well-known perhaps being Donna Karan’s (and Urban Zen’s) yoga wing at Beth Israel. Beyond that, there’s further academic research like at University of Kansas Hospital where they’re launching a study on the effects of yoga on atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm which can be triggered by stress). Another biggie coming up is MD Anderson Cancer Center which last month received an unprecedented $4.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to investigate incorporating yoga into breast cancer treatment.
Earlier…Yoga and Cancer, the Connection for Relief
NBA Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Announces He Has Cancer, Stays Positive With Yoga
Yoga for Patients, But Do Nurses Get a Dose of Zen?
Yoga Therapy, A Valid and Bolstering Road to Cancer Recovery