Yoga May Help Cancer Patients
Dec 6, 2007 - 9:59:39 AM
Study to see if yoga impacts the immune systems of women with cancer
Even though she’s been doing yoga for 20 years and teaching for nine, Linda Oshins says she got into it almost accidentally. Doctors removed a breast because of cancer and Linda originally went to yoga class so she could back into the swimming pool.
“I went to regain mobility in my arm so that I could swim and realized that yoga was helping me through the fear and stress,” says Oshins.
Suddenly, Linda says she was not only feeling better, she believed she was getting better. The yoga was relieving stress and exhaustion, which are common complaints of women coping with cancer.
“The consequences of treatment or just having the cancer itself, the emotional stress of it all can affect health,” says Charles Shapiro, MD, at Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital.
Can yoga really make that big of a difference? Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of Ohio State University Medical Center wants to find out. She and her colleagues are enlisting some 250 women with breast cancer to take yoga classes to measure their impact. Even if those women report feeling better, scientists want to take that a step further, by taking evidence to the lab.
“We’re going to be looking at blood – before, after, and then three months after that. We want to see what yoga actually does in terms of altering the immune response and affecting fatigue as well,” says Kiecolt-Glaser.
By measuring stress hormones in the blood, researchers will see what kind of scientific impact yoga can have on physical health. In the meantime, Linda will keep teaching her class – certain of the role yoga already plays in her emotional health.
Women in the study will go through two 90-minute yoga classes every week and will continue doing yoga at home after their classes are done. Scientists will test them throughout to see how their bodies are reacting. The study is being funded by the National Cancer Institute.
*The History of Yoga, retrieved November 2007, www.yoga-central.net
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