Yoga Studied As Health Benefit For Breast Cancer Survivors  

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Posted: 11/27/2007

COLUMBUS – A new study at Ohio State University Medical Center seeks to determine whether yoga can relieve fatigue and depression and positively affect immune function in breast cancer survivors.

The study, based in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, will examine the effects of consistent yoga practice on women who have completed treatment for stage I, II or IIIa breast cancer. Women must have completed treatment within the past two years – but must not have had surgery, radiation or chemotherapy within the past two months.

The study is led by Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the division of health psychology in the Ohio State University College of Medicine, who also is a co-leader of a separate ongoing study at Ohio State of yoga’s effects on stress in women.

Yoga is ripe for more research, Kiecolt-Glaser said. “Everyone thinks yoga has health benefits, but a look at the literature shows we just don’t have good evidence proving those benefits exist,” she said. “An important population of women stands to benefit from this new study, which will improve understanding of how yoga may alter moods and produce immunological and hormonal changes that are relevant to health.”

For the new study, patients will be randomly assigned to one of two groups: One will perform usual activities for six months as a control before beginning the intervention, then will participate in a 90-minute yoga session twice a week for 12 weeks. They will practice yoga at home using DVDs or videos. Patients will also keep a daily yoga diary. The other group will immediately begin participating in a 90-minute yoga session twice a week for 12 weeks, practice yoga at home using DVDs or videos and keep a daily yoga diary.

Patients in both groups will undergo a physical assessment and interview and fill out questionnaires, and undergo blood and saliva sample collection periodically for laboratory studies.

The outcomes assessed will include the presence of proinflammatory cytokines (which aid the immune response and healing but cause trouble in the bloodstream if they’re elevated for too long), fatigue and depressive symptoms, as well as quality of life measures related to perceived stress and stress responsiveness, health behaviors, physical pain and flexibility, and physiological stress responses.

“We’re hopeful that we can find biological evidence that demonstrates that gentle physical activity accessible to virtually everyone might help women in their ongoing recovery from breast cancer,” said Dr. Charles Shapiro, director of breast medical oncology at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at Ohio State and a co-principal investigator for the study.

Researchers aim to enroll 250 women in the study, which is funded by the National Cancer Institute. Kiecolt-Glaser is a member of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

More information about the study is available online at, by e-mailing or by calling 614-292-0386.

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Emily Caldwell
Medical Center Communications

Tags: Breast Cancer; Clinical/Translational Research; James Cancer Hospital

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) 460 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 Phone: 1-800-293-5066 | Email: