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AIM: Breast cancer has become a pandemic with an ever-increasing incidence. Although better diagnostics and treatment modalities have reduced mortality, a large number of survivors face cancer and treatment-related long-term symptoms. Many survivors are taking up yoga for improving the quality of life (QoL). The present study attempts to evaluate predictors of psychological states in breast cancer survivors with long-term yoga experience. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A case-control study recruited early breast cancer survivors, 30-65 years, completing treatment > 6 months before recruitment, and grouped them based on prior yoga experience (BCY, n = 27) or naive (BCN, n = 25). Demography, cancer history, diet, exercise habits, and yoga schedule were collected and tools to assess stress, anxiety, depression, general health, and QoL were administered. Multivariate linear regression was done to identify predictors of psychological variables. RESULTS: BCY had significantly lower stress, anxiety, depression, better general health, and QoL (P < 0.001). Global QoL and trait anxiety were significantly predicted by Yoga practice; depression was predicted by yoga practice, annual income, and sleep quality; state anxiety was predicted by Yoga practice and income; and stress was predicted by Yoga practice and sleep quality. CONCLUSION: Results indicate that breast cancer survivors, doing yoga, have better psychological profiles and are able to deal with demanding situations better. The psycho-oncogenic model of cancer etiology suggests that a better psychological state in survival has the potential to improve prognosis and survival outcomes and Yoga may be a suitable practice for staying cancer-free for a longer time.

BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that distress and accompanying neuroendocrine stress responses as important predictor of survival in advanced breast cancer patients. Some psychotherapeutic intervention studies have shown have modulation of neuroendocrine-immune responses in advanced breast cancer patients. In this study, we evaluate the effects of yoga on perceived stress, sleep, diurnal cortisol, and natural killer (NK) cell counts in patients with metastatic cancer.METHODS: In this study, 91 patients with metastatic breast cancer who satisfied selection criteria and consented to participate were recruited and randomized to receive "integrated yoga based stress reduction program" (n = 45) or standard "education and supportive therapy sessions" (n = 46) over a 3 month period. Psychometric assessments for sleep quality were done before and after intervention. Blood draws for NK cell counts were collected before and after the intervention. Saliva samples were collected for three consecutive days before and after intervention. Data were analyzed using the analysis of covariance on postmeasures using respective baseline measure as a covariate. RESULTS: There was a significant decrease in scales of symptom distress (P < 0.001), sleep parameters (P = 0.02), and improvement in quality of sleep (P = 0.001) and Insomnia Rating Scale sleep score (P = 0.001) following intervention. There was a decrease in morning waking cortisol in yoga group (P = 0.003) alone following intervention. There was a significant improvement in NK cell percent (P = 0.03) following intervention in yoga group compared to control group. CONCLUSION: The results suggest modulation of neuroendocrine responses and improvement in sleep in patients with advanced breast cancer following yoga intervention.