Do yoga to cut cancer risk, say scientists

New study assessed the effect of ‘soft’ yoga on the markers of inflammation in the body associated with the disease

Vishwam Sankaran
Wednesday 07 June 2023 07:36 BST

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A soft form of yoga catered for cancer survivors can help improve their odds of survival and cut the risk of the malignant disease recurring in the patients, according to new research.

The study, which is yet-to-be peer-reviewed, assessed the effect of a form of yoga called Yoga for Cancer Survivors (Yocas) on the markers of inflammation in the body associated with the malignant disease.

Yocas involves a type of yoga known as “hatha yoga” and is catered for cancer survivors.

Inflammation, both acute as well as chronic, has been associated with cancer development and progression as well as the toxicities of anti-cancer drugs, affecting the survival of individuals battling the condition.

Walking for half an hour a day can also help reduce fatigue in cancer patients, suggested the research.

The effectiveness of combating such inflammation using non-pharmaceutical interventions like yoga and exercise, however, remain unknown, said researchers, including Karen Mustian from the University of Rochester Medical Center.

In a new clinical trial, the findings of which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology this week, scientists compared the effects of Yocas to placebo on inflammation markers in the body.

Researchers enrolled over 500 cancer survivors in the study and randomly assigned them to either a group that practiced Yocas or the placebo.

The Yocas group practiced hatha yoga for 75 minutes a day, twice a week, for four weeks, while the placebo group went through a similar period of health education programme based on survivorship recommendation.

Both these interventions were led by certified health professionals, researchers said.

Scientists collected serum samples from the study participants both before and after the interventions and assessed markers of inflammation.

They found there were “significantly lower” overall signs of inflammation among participants in the Yocas group than those in the placebo group.

Based on the findings, researchers recommend this form of hatha yoga for cancer survivors who have inflammation.

Another study presented at the conference by the University of Rochester researchers also found that a home-based exercise prescription can improve outcomes in cancer patients.

“Oncologists should consider prescribing Yocas yoga for survivors experiencing inflammation, which may lead to a high chronic toxicity burden and increased risk of progression, recurrence, and second cancers,” scientists noted in their presentation.

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