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Yoga for Cancer Survivors

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A yoga class for cancer survivors at Ohio State University's JamesCare. It may be the best prescription for women like Sue Cavanaugh. She was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago.

"Hearing cancer, it's like you get the air knocked out of you psychologically."

After Sue's surgery and radiation, Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser asked her to join a study. The professor of psychiatry and psychology wondered if yoga could help beat the terrible fatigue that plagues many breast cancer survivors for years.

"The best treatment for fatigue, we know, is exercise. But if you're fatigued, you don't want to exercise. So we were interested in a mild kind of exercise that might have other benefits as well."

From a group of 200 survivors, half took yoga classes for 90 minutes, twice a week, for 3 months.

"One of the best things about the yoga is the breathing, and it really is totally relaxing," says Cavanaugh.

Participants filled out questionnaires and had blood drawn.

Sue was not the only one to notice a difference. The doc says the yoga group saw a 41% drop in fatigue, and a 15% decline in inflammation. After six months, the decrease was even greater.

"We were really surprised actually at the change, the magnitude of the change," says Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser.

She says this study also may point the way to help survivors of other cancers, as well as patients with chronic fatigue.

"This offers a really intriguing possibility."

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