Research Suggests Yoga, Walking Can Help Cancer Patients

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June 7, 2023 -- New studies suggest that walking and practicing yoga fight fatigue in cancer patients and lower the risk of it spreading, returning or resulting in death, The Guardian reports.

The newspaper said three studies were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world’s largest cancer conference. They “add weight to growing evidence that physical activity can help, not hinder, patients.”

In the first study, University of Rochester Medical Center followed more than 500 patients, average age 56, from across the country. They had been treated for cancer between two months and five years earlier, then randomly assigned to either practice yoga or attend health education classes.

Those who practiced yoga were found to have significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers. Inflammation helps tumors grow and spread throughout the body.

“Our data suggest that yoga significantly reduces inflammation among cancer survivors,” the study’s authors said. “Clinicians should consider prescribing yoga for survivors experiencing inflammation, which may lead to a high chronic toxicity burden and increased risk of progression, recurrence, and second cancers.”

In another study, Rochester researchers investigated yoga’s impact on fatigue and quality of life. Participants were put into two groups, one taking yoga and one enrolled in education classes. The research revealed that yoga helped improve both fatigue and quality of life.

“A third study found cancer patients who are active can reduce their risk of dying by almost a fifth,” The Guardian wrote. It involved 2,600 cancer patients in Brazil for six years, some qualifying as “active” by walking for 30 minutes five times a week.

People who had sedentary lifestyles had a greater risk of death than their active counterparts. 

“After 180 days, 90% of people in the active group were still alive, compared with 74% in the sedentary group,” The Guardian wrote.