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Yoga Provides Health Benefits for Breast Cancer Survivors

Twelve-week intervention linked to improved fatigue, vitality, lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines

TUESDAY, Jan. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For breast cancer survivors, a 12-week yoga intervention improves fatigue and vitality and is associated with reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D., from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues examined the impact of yoga on inflammation, mood, and fatigue in a randomized three-month controlled trial involving 200 breast cancer survivors. Participants were randomized to 12-week, twice-weekly, 90-minute hatha yoga classes or wait-list control.

The researchers found that, immediately post-treatment, vitality was higher (P = 0.01) in the yoga versus the control group, although fatigue was not lower (P > 0.05). At three-months post-treatment, participants in the yoga group had lower fatigue (P = 0.002), higher vitality (P = 0.01), and lower levels of interleukin (IL)-6, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), and IL-1β (P = 0.027, 0.027, and 0.037, respectively), compared with controls. No difference was seen in depression at either time point (P > 0.2). In a planned secondary analysis, at both post-treatment visits, yoga practice frequency was more strongly associated with fatigue (P = 0.019 and 0.0001) and vitality (P = 0.016 and 0.0045), but not depression (P > 0.05), than simple group assignment. Larger changes were seen with more frequent practice. Increasing yoga practice also correlated with decreased IL-6 and IL-1β production (P = 0.01 and 0.03, respectively), but not with TNF-α (P > 0.05).

"If yoga dampens or limits both fatigue and inflammation, then regular practice could have substantial health benefits," the authors write.

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