Within the last year, there have been a number of studies published on the benefits of yoga for breast cancer survivors. All the studies point to an improvement in quality of life (QOL). In a pilot study at the University of Pittsburgh, involving 25 survivors with low QOL, recently published in Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice, researchers found that those who had low emotional health had significant improvement in depression and anxiety scores.
In addition to the pilot study, there have been four literature reviews of yoga and breast cancer studies published recently. These literature reviews considered only substantial randomized and controlled trials (RCT). As concluded in the reviews, there is a growing body of evidence that supports yoga for after-treatment care. One literature review conducted in England found over 132 published studies, 18 of which were RCT. According to the authors, “all 18 studies reported positive effects for treatment-related side effects in favor of the yoga interventions, with the greatest impact on global quality of life (QOL) scores and emotional well-being.”
In a literature review conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, the authors found that sleep was significantly improved among breast cancer survivors practicing yoga. Improvements were also documented in anxiety, depression, distress, quality of life, and post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting. A third literature review published in a Cancer Journal analyzed 12 RCT and found “evidence for short-term effects of yoga in improving psychological health in breast cancer patients.” A final review of studies conducted in China included many more trials, but they were not randomized and controlled. Still, this study points to the same conclusion: Yoga helps breast cancer survivors deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and helps restore emotional wellbeing.
Cramer H, Lange S, Klose P, Paul A, Dobos G., “Yoga for breast cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” BMC Cancer. 2012 Sep 18;12(1):412.
Harder H, Parlour L, Jenkins V., “Randomised controlled trials of yoga interventions for women with breast cancer: a systematic literature review.” Support Care Cancer. 2012 Oct 6.
Levine AS, Balk JL., “Pilot study of yoga for breast cancer survivors with poor quality of life,” Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice. 2012 Nov;18(4):241-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.06.007.
Stan DL, Collins NM, Olsen MM, Croghan I, Pruthi S. “The evolution of mindfulness-based physical interventions in breast cancer survivors,” Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012;2012:758641.