Improve Balance in Breast Cancer Patients with Qigong Practice

Improve Balance in Breast Cancer Patients with Qigong Practice


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“In terms of qigong influence on my cancer, a bone density scan carried some months ago has shown that, not only have I not lost further bone material, but, bone density has improved and there is growth of new material. I attribute this to my qigong practice since this is beyond the power of medication to effect this kind of outcome.” – Jean Caron


Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Cancer and its treatment often results in bone loss making the individual more vulnerable to fractures especially after falls.


Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Tai Chi or Qigong practice has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, improve balance and reduce the likelihood of falls. It is not known, however, if Qigong practice can help to strengthen bones and reduce the likelihood of fractures.


In today’s Research News article “Bone Mineral Density, Balance Performance, Balance Self-Efficacy, and Falls in Breast Cancer Survivors With and Without Qigong Training: An Observational Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: ), Fong and colleagues recruited breast cancer survivors who had undergone standard treatments and separated them into two groups; those who performed Qigong practice for at least 3 months and those who did not practice. They also recruited a healthy control group that did not engage in Qigong practice. The participants were measured for whole body, hip, and arm bone density, balance, history of falls and fear of falling.


They found that the Breast cancer group that performed Qigong practice had significantly better balance and lower fear of falling than those who did not practice. In fact, those who practiced were equivalent to healthy controls in balance and fear of falling. It was those who didn’t practice who were deficient. They did not find differences between the groups in bone density. So, although Qigong practice did not appear to strengthen bones in breast cancer survivors, it did appear to improve balance and reduce their fear of falling making fractures less likely.


Falls and the resultant bone fractures are a significant threat not only to the quality of life of breast cancer survivors but also to their longevity. Hence, the benefits of improvements in balance for these patients should not be underappreciated. They could well lead to longer and better lives.


So, improve balance in breast cancer patients with qigong practice.


“Tai Chi may lead to better physical balance and stronger circulation of blood and energy. Tai Chi is a complimentary method for both preparing and recovering from surgery. Practicing with a positive, motivated group of people who are interested in empowering themselves with mind/body tools is a great support group for people who like to take an active role in their journey to better health.” – Cancer Wellness TV


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Shirley S. M. Fong, Anna W. M. Choi, W. S. Luk, Timothy T. T. Yam, Joyce C. Y. Leung, Joanne W. Y. Chung. Bone Mineral Density, Balance Performance, Balance Self-Efficacy, and Falls in Breast Cancer Survivors With and Without Qigong Training: An Observational Study. Integr Cancer Ther. 2018 Mar; 17(1): 124–130. Published online 2017 Jan 4. doi: 10.1177/1534735416686687



Purpose: A deterioration in bone strength and balance performance after breast cancer treatment can result in injurious falls. Therefore, interventions need to be developed to improve the bone strength and balance ability of breast cancer survivors. This cross-sectional exploratory study aimed to compare the bone mineral density (BMD), balance performance, balance self-efficacy, and number of falls between breast cancer survivors who practiced qigong, breast cancer survivors who did not practice qigong, and healthy individuals. Methods: The study included 40 breast cancer survivors with more than 3 months of qigong experience, 17 breast cancer survivors with no qigong experience, and 36 healthy controls. All the participants underwent dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans to measure their lumbar spine, total hip, femoral neck, and total radius BMDs. The participants also underwent a timed one-leg stand test to measure their single-leg standing balance. The participants’ balance self-efficacy was assessed using the activities-specific balance confidence scale, and the number of falls experienced by each participant was assessed in a face-to-face interview. Results: The lumbar spine, total hip, femoral neck, and total radius BMDs were similar between the 3 groups (P > .05). The breast cancer-qigong group outperformed the breast cancer-control group by 27.3% when they performed the one-leg stand test on a foam surface (P = .025), and they also had a higher balance self-efficacy score (P = .006). Nevertheless, the numbers of falls were comparable between the 3 groups (P > .05). Conclusion: Qigong may be a suitable exercise for improving the balance performance and balance self-efficacy of breast cancer survivors.

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