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J Clin Oncol. 2014 Apr 1;32(10):1058-65. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2012.48.2752. Epub 2014 Mar 3.

Randomized, controlled trial of yoga in women with breast cancer undergoing radiotherapy.

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Kavita D. Chandwani, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY; Kavita D. Chandwani, George Perkins, Amy Spelman, Kayla Johnson, Adoneca Fortier, Banu Arun, Qi Wei, Robin Haddad, Janet Scheetz, Alejandro Chaoul, and Lorenzo Cohen, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; G. Stephen Morris, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN; Hongasandra Ramarao Nagendra, Nelamangala V. Raghuram, Raghuram Nagarathna, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru, India; and Clemens Kirschbaum, Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany.



Previous research incorporating yoga (YG) into radiotherapy (XRT) for women with breast cancer finds improved quality of life (QOL). However, shortcomings in this research limit the findings.


Patients with stages 0 to III breast cancer were recruited before starting XRT and were randomly assigned to YG (n = 53) or stretching (ST; n = 56) three times a week for 6 weeks during XRT or waitlist (WL; n = 54) control. Self-report measures of QOL (Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short-form survey; primary outcomes), fatigue, depression, and sleep quality, and five saliva samples per day for 3 consecutive days were collected at baseline, end of treatment, and 1, 3, and 6 months later.


The YG group had significantly greater increases in physical component scale scores compared with the WL group at 1 and 3 months after XRT (P = .01 and P = .01). At 1, 3, and 6 months, the YG group had greater increases in physical functioning compared with both ST and WL groups (P < .05), with ST and WL differences at only 3 months (P < .02). The group differences were similar for general health reports. By the end of XRT, the YG and ST groups also had a reduction in fatigue (P < .05). There were no group differences for mental health and sleep quality. Cortisol slope was steepest for the YG group compared with the ST and WL groups at the end (P = .023 and P = .008) and 1 month after XRT (P = .05 and P = .04).


YG improved QOL and physiological changes associated with XRT beyond the benefits of simple ST exercises, and these benefits appear to have long-term durability.

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