Yoga to Help With Cancer-Linked Symptoms, Scientists Say

Cancer is a rigorous illness; even after successfully undergoing treatment, there can be lingering symptoms.

Among them may be fatigue, cognitive decline, cardiovascular illness, and mental health issues, such as anxiety and depressive symptoms. Another common symptom among cancer survivors is chronic inflammation caused by the disease and its treatment.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting was recently attended by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center. They presented their findings that yoga can help elderly cancer survivors live better lives by reducing tiredness and inflammation.


Yoga comes in various forms, and scientists suggest that any kind can help with a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Lowering high blood pressure
  • Reducing stress and relieving despair and anxiety
  • Enhancing coordination and balance
  • Reducing back and joint discomfort
  • Improving sleep

Karen Mustian, the lead author of yoga-related research from the University of Rochester Medical Center, and her team conducted a study with 173 cancer survivors with a mean age of 67. The participants took part in an average of seven yoga sessions or a behavioral health education placebo in one of the trials.

When the data was analyzed, the yoga group considerably outperformed the placebo group in terms of improved both tiredness and the emotional aspect of their quality of life. The physical and functional aspects of participants' quality of life were also improved; however, the placebo group did not.

In the other yoga-related study, Mustian and her group assessed the impact of yoga on cancer survivors' inflammatory responses. Participants in this trial, 502 cancer survivors with an average age of 56, got either a month-long 75-minute gentle yoga session twice per week or a placebo health education.

Researchers discovered that, compared to the placebo group, the yoga participants had much lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers.

Furthermore, yoga practitioners statistically tended to have lower anti-inflammatory markers than those who received a placebo.

Conducted by Brazil's Instituto de Medicina Integral, the impact of physical activity on mortality risk in older cancer patients was the subject of the third exercise-related study.


This study involved over 2,600 people with various forms of cancer over the age of 60, and before receiving cancer treatment, participants were surveyed to see how active they were.

For 180 days, research participants were monitored. Following 180 days, researchers discovered that 10% of the physically active group and nearly 26% of the sedentary group were responsible for the 461 deaths.

Additionally, people who engaged in physical exercise before therapy had a greater survival rate (90%) than inactive ones (74%).

Mustian concludes: "As we learn about inflammation and what goes on with inflammation, we know that cancer causes it, we know the treatments cause it, and we know that it is underlying virtually almost every negative side effect we see from cancer in one way or another, as well as its treatments."


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