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Yoga helps cancer patients

Women going through treatment for breast cancer felt better when they tried yoga, according to one of the first scientific studies of its kind.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 19:23 IST

Women going through treatment for breast cancer felt better when they tried yoga, according to one of the first scientific studies of its kind.

"Our belief is something as simple and brief as a short (yoga) programme would be very useful" at combating side effects from cancer treatment, said Lorenzo Cohen, a psychologist who led the pilot study.

Yoga incorporates meditation, relaxation, imagery, controlled breathing, stretching and physical movements. Although the study was small and preliminary, it's one of the few to try to rigorously measure the benefits of this form of exercise, Cohen said.

Researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre focused on 61 women who had surgery for breast cancer and now were getting six weeks of radiation treatment. Thirty women were assigned to a test group that took twice-a-week yoga classes. The others did not.

At the end of six weeks, study participants filled out detailed questionnaires grading their ability to lift groceries, walk 1.6 kilometres and perform other physical activities. They also were asked about feelings of fatigue and their sense of well-being.

Their scores were converted to a scale that ranged from 0 to 100. The researchers found the yoga group consistently had higher scores in almost every area. It was most pronounced in physical function -- the yoga group had a mean score of about 82, compared with 69 for the other group.

Participants said they were in better general health, were less fatigued and had fewer problems with daytime sleepiness.