Here’s some news to brighten your day: science has provided yet another reason to practice yoga. A study found that yoga can help reduce cancer-related fatigue and lower levels of inflammation in the body. And actually, the more yoga that was done, the better off the cancer survivors were.
Researchers and scientists at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center recently conducted the largest ever study on the medical benefits of yoga, and specifically yoga’s effect on inflammation and fatigue post-cancer treatment. The five-year study, published online Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, involved 200 female breast cancer survivors, one half participating in a 90-minute hatha yoga class twice a week for 12 weeks, and the other half in the control group (no yoga). At the end of the study, those who practiced yoga saw a 57 percent reduction in fatigue and 20 percent less inflammation. This is great news as inflammation is often responsible for a slew of other problems like heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Fatigue and inflammation can plague cancer patients for years after chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but we’ve seen in recent years and studies that yoga has helped curb fatigue while increasing energy and overall quality of life, hence less need for pills and sleeping aids. The reduced inflammation is a huge and added boon. And according to blood tests examined in this study, the more yoga the women did, the better the results.
This isn’t to say all cancer patients should take on a rigorous six-day a week yoga program, but starting with a gentle hatha class accompanied by restorative and meditation can have its real benefits.
“Even three months of yoga made a difference in terms of the women for fatigue and for inflammation. So that modest practice over a period of several months could have substantial benefits,” said study leader Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Graser, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
Even three months after the study participants continued to show improvements in sleep and lower levels of inflammation, a result of keeping up their practice.
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