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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Alternative Medicine - Breast Cancer -

Yoga program benefits breast cancer survivors

Alternative Medicine • • Breast CancerMar 10, 08

In a small study of breast cancer survivors, researchers found that a tailored yoga program helped relieve severe hot flashes and other bothersome menopausal symptoms.

Women who participated in the 8-week “Yoga of Awareness” program not only had greater declines in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes than did a comparison “control” group, they also experienced less fatigue, joint pain, sleep disturbance, and symptom-related distress. They also reported increased vigor.

These improvements were still evident 3 months after the yoga sessions ended.

Yoga of Awareness is “a different type of yoga than you’d get at a usual yoga studio or gym, where the emphasis would be pretty much exclusively on physical postures and breathing,” Dr. Laura Porter, of Duke University, Durham, North Carolina noted in an interview with Reuters Health.

“Our intervention is based on more traditional yoga practices, which include meditation techniques, didactic presentations about stress management, about learning to ‘ride the waves’ of life’s experiences and symptoms, with an emphasis on acceptance of whatever comes your way rather than try to push things away,” she explained.

Women who’ve been treated for breast cancer often develop severe hot flashes, yet have limited treatment options. They cannot take hormone replacement therapy, for example, because it may increase the risk for cancer recurrence. Treatments used to prevent cancer recurrence, such as tamoxifen, also tend to induce or exacerbate menopausal symptoms.

“These women have suffered through the difficulties of breast cancer and are left to cope with these daily, extremely disruptive symptoms with few options for relief,” said Porter, co-author of the study presented this past weekend at the International Association of Yoga Therapists Symposium for Yoga Therapy and Research in Los Angeles.

Porter and colleagues randomly assigned 37 survivors of early breast cancer who reported experiencing hot flashes to the 8-week Yoga of Awareness program or to a “wait-list” control group.

“Our target symptoms were menopausal symptoms and hot flashes and we certainly found that the women who participated in the program had reductions in those symptoms in comparison to the women in the wait-list control group,” Porter said.

“While this is a specific pilot program, women seeking similar results could consult with an experienced yoga instructor to learn some of the same techniques,” Porter said in a statement. “In addition to the traditional yoga postures, a well-trained yoga instructor or other mind-body practitioner may be able to provide instruction in breathing and meditation techniques to help manage stress and alleviate bothersome menopausal symptoms.”

The research team plans to conduct additional studies to better understand the effects of the Yoga of Awareness program on breast cancer patients. They also plan to teach the concepts to yoga instructors nationwide.

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