Yoga Helps Breast Cancer Patients

Two new studies find that yoga aids breast cancer patients in dealing with side effects of medication, improves memory, and reduces pain and other symptoms.

woman meditating, anjali mudra

The American Society of Clinical Oncology had its annual meeting recently in Chicago, and yoga was a part of the dialogue. In the past year, cancer researchers have conducted several to see if the practices of hatha and restorative yoga, and meditation, can benefit those who are battling cancer, both in terms of alleviating symptoms as well as alleviating side effects from medications.

A recent study done by Luke J. Peppone, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, found that yoga was helpful for women with breast cancer who were taking aromatase inhibitors. These medications deplete estrogen and can cause menopause-like symptoms, including joint pain and muscle aches that can be severe. Because of the side effects, the women often stop taking the drug, which increases the chance for the cancer to return. But when women who were on the drug incorporated yoga into their lives, their pain and muscle aches decreased substantially.

The findings of another researcher, Michelle C. Janelsins, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at Wilmot, were also discussed. Janelsins looked at the benefits of yoga therapy in middle-aged, mostly female cancer survivors. The findings: A four-week gentle yoga plan improved memory, which in turn increased energy levels and overall quality of life.

Cancer patients have been practicing yoga as alternative therapy for years; now the research is finally catching up, making the treatment avenue of yoga more accessible to everyone.