Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Yoga May Help After Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Survivors Report Fewer Hot Flashes After 8 Weeks of Specialized Yoga Training
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 10, 2008 -- Yoga may ease hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors, new research shows.

"We knew that some data found yoga helped reduce hot flashes among healthy women but no one had studied the effects among cancer survivors," Duke University's Laura Porter, PhD, says in a news release.

Breast cancer survivors aren't good candidates for hormone replacement therapy. And some breast cancer treatments, such as tamoxifen, "tend to induce or exacerbate menopausal symptoms," write Porter and colleagues at Duke and Oregon Health & Science University.

The yoga study included 37 women who had completed treatment for early-stage breast cancer. The researchers split the women into two groups.

One group of women took a two-hour yoga class for eight weeks. They also practiced yoga at home for about 30 minutes per day. For comparison, the other group of women went on a waiting list for the yoga class.

Their yoga program, called Yoga of Awareness, addresses hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

"Yoga of Awareness is based on traditional yoga techniques that go beyond the teaching of specific postures to incorporate practices aimed at reducing stress and creating a heightened sense of awareness and acceptance about one's physical and mental state," Porter notes in the news release.

All of the women reported their daily hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms at the study's start and end.

Those before-and-after comparisons show that the yoga group had a greater improvement in menopausal symptoms -- including hot flash frequency and severity -- and a bigger drop in fatigue, joint pain, poor sleep, and distress about their symptoms than the women on the yoga waiting list.

Three months later, the yoga group still fared better, in terms of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, according to follow-up data.

The findings were presented on March 8 in Los Angeles at the International Association of Yoga Therapists' Symposium for Yoga Therapy and Research.

The researchers plan further studies and to teach their yoga program to yoga instructors nationwide.

Meanwhile, Porter states that while Yoga of Awareness "is not what you'd find at your local fitness center," experienced yoga instructors could teach some of the program's principles.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow