Top conference provides evidence backing exercise and yoga

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This year’s discussions at ASCO

came up with two easy-to-understand studies.

Eash year one of the top Cancer Conferences is run by ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology).  Oncologists from all over the world journey to Chicago to hear the latest research, and this year the  conference came up with two helpful studies – one on benefits of Exercise for cancer patients, and the other on Yoga.

1.  There was a report on how Exercise and  Diet May Benefit Patients Receiving Cancer Treatments, saying Patients who exercise daily and eat a proper diet while receiving treatments for breast and prostate cancer may improve their overall health.

A team of researchers enrolled a total of 50 participants into the trial, which included 30 female breast cancer patients and 20 male patients who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The participants were aged 35 to 80 years, and were either currently receiving cancer treatment or were treatment-free for one year.

Each patient was recommended a specific exercise and diet plan that was based on their weight, overall health as well as what type of cancer treatment they were receiving.

The results of the trial showed that patients who were receiving treatment and following appropriate diet and exercise habits were less fatigued and didn’t experience as many side effects caused by the cancer treatments.

Eleanor M. Walker, division director of breast services at Henry Ford Hospital, stated that “using exercise as an approach to cancer care has the potential to benefit patients both physically and psychologically, as well as mitigate treatment side effects.”

Proof of the pudding etc. comes with the fact that many medical insurance companies will actively encourage clients to include a specialised exercise recovery programme after surgery and treatment – and if those tight-fisted accountants will pay out for this – it must work!

2.  The largest, randomized controlled study ever to examine the value of Yoga specially designed for cancer survivors, known as YOCAS, was unveiled at the ASCO 2010 annual meeting.

Fatigue and poor sleep are two of the most common side effects of surviving cancer, seriously affecting quality of life for cancer patients, about 65% of whom report having problems sleeping after treatment is over.

Lead investigator Dr Karen Mustian, assistant professor in the departments of radiation oncology and community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, told the press that:

“Very few, if any, treatments for the sleep problems and fatigue that cancer survivors experience work well for very long, if at all.”

So  the study looked at simple ideas to help patients, and focussed on National Cancer Institute funded randomized, nationwide, multicenter trials.  They assessed the impact of a yoga program in 410 survivors of early-stage cancer. The patients reported having sleeping problems between 2 and 24 months after finishing their cancer treatment.

Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group had only the usual post-treatment care (the control group) and the other group had the usual care plus participation in a specially designed 75-minute yoga class twice a week for four weeks.

The University of Rochester designed YOCAS (Yoga for Cancer Survivors) program taught the participants a series of mindfulness exercises that covered breathing (pranayama), meditation, visualization, and 18 different poses or asanas where the body is seated, standing or lying down.

Researcher Mustian said YOCAS was a blend of two forms of low-intensity types of yoga: Hatha and restorative yoga. She described the exercises as “gentle …. not some kind of power Vinyasa yoga class,” according to a CNN report.

Results were excellent – for more information go to American Society of Clinical Oncology site.

So get out the Yoga mat, or dust down your running shoes, and get active!  www.asco.org

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