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Study: Yoga helps breast cancer patients undergoing radiation

yoga classWho doesn’t want to better their quality of life while undergoing cancer treatment? Recent research shows it isn’t a stretch to say yoga may very well help you accomplish that. A study appearing in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Oncology assigned more than 160 women who had breast cancer and were undergoing radiation therapy to either hourlong yoga or stretching sessions up to three times a week, and compared them with another group of women who didn’t partake in these exercises. Using saliva samples, cortisol (a stress hormone) was measured. The women performing yoga had the greatest daylong reduction in cortisol levels, which may be an indication of how well yoga is able to combat stress hormones; both the yoga and stretching groups reported feeling less tired, which is a common side effect of radiation treatment. According to study authors, regulating stress hormones can help better your survival odds. The yoga group also had better physical functioning than the other groups. No differences were noted among all the participants for mental health or sleep, although the study authors say that the lack of differences could be because the women were already doing OK in those areas. If you’re interested in taking up yoga or another form of exercise, make sure to speak with your oncologist or health care professional first. He or she may be able to refer you to an instructor who works with cancer patients and focuses on “gentle” yoga