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OBJECTIVES: Previous research has found that yoga can enhance quality of life and ease menopausal symptoms of breast cancer survivors. The study examined whether self-esteem mediated the effects of yoga on quality of life, fatigue and menopausal symptoms, utilizing validated outcome measures.STUDY DESIGN: This is a secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of yoga with those of usual care in 40 breast cancer survivors who suffered from menopausal symptoms. All participants completed all 3 assessments (week 0, week 12, and week 24) and provided full data. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Outcomes were measured using self-rating instruments. Mediation analyses were performed using SPSS. RESULTS: Self-esteem mediated the effect of yoga on total menopausal symptoms (B=-2.11, 95% BCI [-5.40 to -0.37]), psychological menopausal symptoms (B=-0.94, 95% BCI [-2.30 to -0.01]), and urogenital menopausal symptoms (B=-0.66, 95% BCI [-1.65 to -0.15]), quality of life (B=8.04, 95% BCI [3.15-17.03]), social well-being (B=1.80, 95% BCI [0.54-4.21]), emotional well-being (B=1.62, 95% BCI [0.70-3.34]), functional well-being (B=1.84, 95% BCI [0.59-4.13]), and fatigue (B=4.34, 95% BCI [1.28-9.55]). Self-esteem had no effect on somatovegetative menopausal symptoms (B=-0.50, 95% BCI n.s.) or on physical well-being (B=0.79, 95% BCI n.s.). CONCLUSIONS: Findings support the assumption that self-esteem plays a vital role in the beneficial effect of yoga and that yoga can have long-term benefits for women diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing menopausal transition.

BACKGROUND: Breast cancer survivors have only very limited treatment options for menopausal symptoms. The objective of this trial was to evaluate the effects of a 12-week traditional Hatha yoga and meditation intervention on menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors.METHODS: Patients were randomly assigned either to a 12-week yoga and meditation intervention or to usual care. The primary outcome measure was total menopausal symptoms (Menopause Rating Scale [MRS] total score). Secondary outcome measures included MRS subscales, quality of life (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast), fatigue (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue), depression, and anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Outcomes were assessed at week 12 and week 24 after randomization. RESULTS: In total, 40 women (mean age ± standard deviation, 49.2 ± 5.9 years) were randomized to yoga (n = 19) or to usual care (n = 21). Women in the yoga group reported significantly lower total menopausal symptoms compared with the usual care group at week 12 (mean difference, -5.6; 95% confidence interval, -9.2 to -1.9; P = .004) and at week 24 (mean difference, -4.5; 95% confidence interval, -8.3 to -0.7; P = .023). At week 12, the yoga group reported less somatovegetative, psychological, and urogenital menopausal symptoms; less fatigue; and improved quality of life (all P < .05). At week 24, all effects persisted except for psychological menopausal symptoms. Short-term effects on menopausal symptoms remained significant when only women who were receiving antiestrogen medication (n = 36) were analyzed. Six minor adverse events occurred in each group. CONCLUSIONS: Yoga combined with meditation can be considered a safe and effective complementary intervention for menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors. The effects seem to persist for at least 3 months.