Improve Breast Cancer Survivors Physical and Psychological Health with Yoga
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis has potentially “favorable influence on breast cancer incidence and outcome.” Yoga can not only be an effective, low-impact exercise, but it has also been shown in numerous studies to reduce fatigue, improve physical function and quality of sleep, and contribute to an overall better quality of life.” – Gretchen Stelter
Because of great advances in treatment, many breast cancer patients today are surviving. But breast cancer survivors frequently suffer from a range of persistent psychological and physical residual symptoms that impair their quality of life. Mindfulness training and exercise have been shown to help with general cancer recovery. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the residual symptoms in cancer survivors. Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has also been shown to be helpful with the residual symptoms in cancer survivors, the psychological and physical ability to deal with cancer treatment and improves sleep. The mechanisms of how yoga produces these benefits are unknown.
In today’s Research News article “The high dose of vitamin D supplementation combined with yoga training improve the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression in breast cancer survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8403369/ ) Zare and colleagues recruited adult survivors of breast cancer and randomly assigned them to receive a high dose of vitamin D (4000 IU), a high dose of vitamin D (4000 IU) plus 12 weeks of yoga practice, or a low dose of vitamin D (2000 IU) plus 12 weeks of yoga practice. Yoga practice consisted of postures, breathing exercises, and meditation and was practiced for 60-90 minutes twice a week for 12 weeks. The participants were measured before and after training for anxiety, body size, aerobic fitness (1-mile walk), shoulder range of motion, blood cortisol, and expression of leukocyte survival genes p53, NF-κB, Bcl2, and Bax.
They found that yoga practice resulted in a significant decrease in body fat percentage and anxiety levels and a significant increase in aerobic fitness and shoulder flexibility regardless of the vitamin D dosage. They also found that the high dose of vitamin D produced a significant up regulation of the leukocyte survival genes p53 and Bcl2 regardless of yoga practice.
These results suggest/that yoga practice is beneficial for breast cancer survivors improving their psychological and physical well being while high dose vitamin D supplementation improves their cell survival genes. It should be noted that there wasn’t an active comparison, control, condition for yoga practice such as another form of exercise. So, it is unclear if the effects were due to yoga practice per se or to the exercise provided by yoga practice. But previous controlled studies of the effects of yoga practice have shown that yoga practice reduces anxiety and body fat. So, the effects seen here are likely due to yoga practice. Hence the results suggest that the combination of yoga practice plus high dose vitamin D supplementation should be recommended for breast cancer survivors.
So, improve breast cancer survivors physical and psychological health with yoga.
“Research suggests that there are real benefits to regularly practising yoga after a breast cancer diagnosis, particularly for emotional wellbeing, cancer-related fatigue and pain.” – Brest Cancer Now
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Khedmati Zare, V., Javadi, M., Amani-Shalamzari, S., & Kaviani, M. (2021). The high dose of vitamin D supplementation combined with yoga training improve the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression in breast cancer survivors. Nutrition & metabolism, 18(1), 80. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-021-00607-7
This study aimed to examine the effect of yoga training combined with vitamin D supplementation on the expression of survival-related genes in leukocytes and psycho-physical status in breast cancer survivors.
Thirty breast cancer survivor women (age, 48 ± 8 yrs) were randomly assigned into three groups: high dose (4000 IU) of vitamin D supplementation (HD) (n = 10); yoga training with a high dose of vitamin D (Y + HD); (n = 10); yoga training with a low dose (2000 IU) of vitamin D (Y + LD) (n = 10). Participants performed the Hatha yoga style twice a week. Blood samples and a battery of psychological and physical tests were taken before and after the completion of interventions. Expression of p53, NF-κB, Bcl2, and Bax genes was measured in leukocytes.
Body fat percentage (ηp2 = 0.36), shoulder flexibility (ηp2 = 0.38), Rockport walk tests (ηp2 = 0.49), and anxiety (ηp2 = 0.52) were significantly improved in both the Y + HD and Y + LD groups compared to the HD group (p < 0.05). P53 was significantly over-expressed in the Y + HD group while Bcl2 upregulated in both the Y + HD and Y + LD groups. NF-κB and Bax expression downregulated in all groups but were not statistically significant.
yoga training combined with low and high doses of VD improved physical fitness and psychological measures while only in combination with a high dose of VD positively modified the leukocytes cell survival-related gene expression.