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Yoga shows benefits for breast cancer patients

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At least one in three women diagnosed with breast cancer suffers from lingering fatigue months or even years after treatment ends, but practicing yoga significantly reduces this symptom and also helps lower levels of dangerous inflammation. That’s the finding of a new National Cancer Institute-funded clinical trial that randomly assigned 200 breast cancer survivors to a 90-minute hatha yoga class twice a week for 12 weeks or to a control group waitlisted for the class.

At the end of the study, which was published online last Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, those who practiced yoga reported about 50 percent less fatigue than those in the control group and had 20 percent lower levels of three proteins in the blood that are markers for inflammation.

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Excess inflammation has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and chronic diseases of aging, according to study leader Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

The more times women practiced yoga each week, the lower the levels of their tiredness and inflammation. What’s more, these benefits persisted three months after the study ended — presumably because many of the study participants were keeping up their yoga practice.

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