by Matthew McCurdy
Cancer patients and survivors face unique challenges to their physical and mental health, some of which persist for decades. Ample research has found that yoga interventions increase strength and flexibility, improve balance and mobility, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, support healthy body weight, lessen fatigue, improve sleep, reduce anxiety and stress, enhance the immune system and improve mortality rates.
Many randomized trials in cancer patients show the benefits of yoga. A 2010 study reports that yoga can reduce joint and muscle pain from cancer treatment. A 2017 study suggests that eight weeks of twice-weekly yoga sessions reduces urinary symptoms and improves quality of life in men undergoing prostate radiation. A 2014 study suggests that eight weekly 90-minute yoga sessions prevent lymphedema, a complication of breast cancer surgery. A 2004 study found that seven weekly 75-minute yoga sessions decreased fatigue, anxiety and the need for sleeping pills (fatigue and anxiety are common symptoms in many cancer survivors). An analysis of 13 randomized trials in breast cancer patients found that yoga reduced anxiety and fatigue and improved quality of life.
Yoga is an effective, low-cost tool that has been shown to improve mortality rates, support health and well-being and reduce health care costs and lost productivity due to cancer.
Dr. Matthew McCurdy is a holistic cancer doctor and radiation oncologist at the Austin Cancer Center and treats cancer patients throughout the greater Austin area. For more information, visit AustinCancerCenters.com.