Breast Cancer Patients Improve Quality of Life With Yoga

Sisters Network of Long Island

Sisters Network of Long Island

By Michelle Whitmer, Medical Writer & Editor For The Mesothelioma Center.

To anyone coping with breast cancer, the promise of better health, a quieter mind and finding greater meaning in the cancer experience could sound like a miracle. And it certainly felt like a miracle to the women who reported such benefits after participating in scientific studies that tracked the effects of yoga on breast cancer patients.

Though the benefits of yoga are widely reported by its practitioners, scientific studies on the ancient system are infrequently funded. Because doctors seldom hear about the clinical benefits of yoga for cancer patients, some are reluctant to recommend yoga as a complementary therapy.

Though few scientific studies were conducted on yoga in the past, they are starting to receive more funding and are becoming more common. Several studies have examined the effects of yoga on breast cancer patients, and more are in the pipeline. Progress in clinical research may be slow, but the results confirm what practitioners have touted for ages: Yoga improves mental, emotional and physical health.

Yoga Calms the Mind and Eases Symptoms
A yoga study conducted at the Integrative Medicine Center at MD Anderson’s Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, included 59 women with stage I through III breast cancer who underwent treatment less than a year prior to enrollment.

The yoga program the women participated in consisted of four components: breathing exercises, meditation, sitting yogic postures, and movement-oriented yogic postures. All techniques were learned either sitting in a chair or on a cushion on the floor. The women attended an hour-long class once a week for seven weeks, and were given printed material and audiotapes to take home that reviewed what they learned during class. They were encouraged to practice daily at home and to continue practicing after the seven-week course finished.

The women completed questionnaires one week after the last class, and at one and three months, to evaluate and score physical and psychological effects. Results showed a decrease in cancer-related symptoms and cancer-related intrusive thoughts; which means that the yoga program not only eased the symptoms, it also improved their peace of mind.

Yoga Improves Physical Functioning & Overall Health Perception
Another yoga study at the same center included 61 women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy. The yoga course greatly resembled the program of the former study, but the women attended hour-long classes twice a week for the duration of their radiation therapy. Participants were also given materials that reviewed the techniques to enhance their home practice.

The women filled out questionnaires before the program began, one week after their last radiation therapy session, and at one and three months. One week after radiation therapy, women reported an improved overall perception of health and better physical functioning scores.

An interesting positive correlation appeared at one- and three-month markers that piqued the interest of the researchers. One month after radiation therapy was completed, women reported greater amounts of cancer-related intrusive thoughts. Three months after therapy, the same women reported greater “finding meaning” scores, which refer to the ability to discover meaning in their cancer experience.

The correlation suggested to researchers that women who observed more intrusive thoughts also found more meaning in the experience. In a sense, the yoga practice may have helped the thoughts rise to the surface of the participants’ consciousness, allowing the women to acknowledge the obtrusive thoughts, and may have helped them process the thoughts into a greater meaning.

The same researchers received a $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2009 to study the effects of yoga on breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. The study is currently underway at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and is actively recruiting women. Research completed in April 2014, and the participants have more miracles to report.

Michelle WhitmerAuthor bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida.
Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20388445?dopt=Citation
http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01202851
http://psychcentral.com/news/archives/2006-05/uotm-lng051206.html
http://faculty.mdanderson.org/Lorenzo_Cohen/
http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/103/1/11.full.pdf+html
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pon.1021/abstract
http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/25/28/4387.short

Yoga Helps Cancer Survivors Wake Up On The Right Side Of The Bed

Yoga For Breast Cancer Survivors

Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center
A study published in the August 2013 Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that yoga is an effective treatment to improve sleep and can reduce the use of sleep medication among cancer survivors.
Previous studies showed that yoga can curb fatigue and improve sleep among cancer survivors. Based off that previous evidence, this multicenter trial sought to study yoga’s effects on sleep quality, fatigue and quality of life.
The primary goal was to determine if yoga, in addition to standard care, could improve sleep quality among cancer survivors. Not only did they find that yoga improves sleep, they also found that yoga fights off fatigue and improves quality of life.

Gentle Yoga is More Powerful Than It Seems
The clinical trial followed 410 cancer survivors who were facing moderate or greater sleep disruption between two and 24 months following treatment. Approximately 96 percent of participants were female, and 75 percent had had breast cancer. None of the participants had practiced yoga within the previous three months.
Half of the participants received standard care, known as the control group (CG), and half received standard care plus a four-week yoga program. The Yoga for Cancer Survivors (YOCAS) program was used, which includes breathing exercises, 18 gentle hatha and restorative yoga poses, and meditation. Participants in the yoga program attended two 75-minute yoga classes each week.

The Shocking Results
Industry standard tests for measuring sleep quality, fatigue and quality of life were conducted before and after the four weeks. Participants who completed the yoga program reported:

  • Improved sleep quality (22 percent vs. 12 percent in the control group)
  • Reduced incidence of clinically impaired sleep (31 percent vs. 16 percent in CG)
  • Less daytime sleepiness (29 percent vs. 5 percent in CG)
  • Reduction in sleep medication use (21 percent decrease vs. 5 percent increase in CG)

Participants in the control group actually increased their use of sleep medication by 5 percent, while the yoga group reduced their use by 21 percent. The yoga group also scored better on tests for fatigue and quality of life.

The study demonstrates that cancer survivors who practice yoga even for a few weeks, particularly the Yoga for Cancer Survivors program, could experience less fatigue and improvements in sleep and quality of life. The authors of the study noted that yoga has the potential to reduce the use of sleep medication among cancer survivors and curb daytime sleepiness. Given the results, malignant mesothelioma cancer survivors can consider a gentle yoga practice to address the sleep-disturbing effects of cancer and its treatment.

Michelle WhitmerAuthor bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida.

 

Easy Ways to Add Flaxseeds to Your Diet

Flaxseed for Breast CancerBy: Michelle Whitmer medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center.
Bust out your coffee grinder, and get ready for a new way to boost your energy and reduce breast cancer risk: flaxseeds! The little seeds of the flax plant are packed with nutrition and can be easily added to your diet in many ways.
Dr.  Michael Greger, a physician who specializes in clinical nutrition, has touted the benefits of flaxseeds for breast cancer patients here at Breast Cancer Yoga. Now it’s time to think about ways to get these beneficial seeds into your body to fuel that beautiful machine! Whether you are trying to prevent breast cancer, are going through treatment, or a survivor, flaxseeds offer health benefits to everyone.
Flaxseed Tips: Buying, Storing and Eating
You can buy flaxseeds in three forms: whole, ground and as an oil.
Whole flaxseeds possess the longest shelf life, however, eating the seeds whole doesn’t offer much dietary benefit (the hull around the seed prevents our bellies from getting to the good stuff inside). Ground flaxseed offers the most health benefit, but it oxidizes once ground and will lose some of its nutritional value if not consumed quickly.
Grinding whole seeds before consuming them is the ideal option for nutrient value. If you don’t have a miller or grinder at home (a coffee grinder works well), simply buy ground flaxseed, also called flaxseed meal. Keep your flaxseed – whole seeds, ground meal or flaxseed oil – cool in the fridge or freezer to prevent oxidation. It is particularly important to store ground flaxseed in a cold place to reduce oxidation.
Begin with small doses, and gradually increase your consumption because flaxseed is high in fiber. Make sure to drink extra water with flaxseed to prevent constipation. Start with a teaspoon of ground flaxseed a day, and slowly work your way up to two tablespoons a day.
Consider some of the following options to work flaxseeds seamlessly into your diet:

  • Add ground flaxseed to cereal, oatmeal, granola or yogurt.
  • Sprinkle whole or ground flaxseed onto salads.
  • Include ground flaxseed in baked goods like zucchini muffins.
  • Stir ground flaxseed into condiments like mustard and ketchup.
  • Mix whole or ground flaxseed into breadcrumbs.
  • Blend flaxseed oil into smoothies or into a vinaigrette for salads.

Ground flaxseed will naturally thicken when introduced to water. Some even describe the effect as gel-like. Just add more water to thin it out.
A dose of flaxseed may not contain the caffeine you’ll find in coffee, but the nutrients packed in these tiny seeds will give you a natural energy boost that lasts. And when you’re coping with or recovering from cancer, a little extra energy goes a long way.
Author bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida.
Source:
http://nccam.nih.gov/health/flaxseed/ataglance.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/flaxseed/NS_patient-flaxseed/DSECTION=evidence
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23354422

Michelle WhitmerAuthor bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida.

Yoga Improves Quality of Life Among Breast Cancer Patients, Studies Show

By Michelle Whitmer, Medical Writer & Editor For The Mesothelioma Center

Yoga Improves Quality of Life Among Breast Cancer Patients, Studies Show

To anyone coping with breast cancer, the promise of better health, a quieter mind and finding greater meaning in the cancer experience could sound like a miracle. And it certainly felt like a miracle to the women who reported such benefits after participating in scientific studies that tracked the effects of yoga on breast cancer patients.

Though the benefits of yoga are widely reported by its practitioners, scientific studies on the ancient system are infrequently funded. Because doctors seldom hear about the clinical benefits of yoga for cancer patients, some are reluctant to recommend yoga as a complementary therapy.

Though few scientific studies were conducted on yoga in the past, they are starting to receive more funding and are becoming more common. Several studies have examined the effects of yoga on breast cancer patients, and more are in the pipeline. Progress in clinical research may be slow, but the results confirm what practitioners have touted for ages: Yoga improves mental, emotional and physical health.

Yoga Calms the Mind and Eases Symptoms

A yoga study conducted at the Integrative Medicine Center at MD Anderson’s Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, included 59 women with stage I through III breast cancer who underwent treatment less than a year prior to enrollment.

The yoga program the women participated in consisted of four components: breathing exercises, meditation, sitting yogic postures, and movement-oriented yogic postures. All techniques were learned either sitting in a chair or on a cushion on the floor. The women attended an hour-long class once a week for seven weeks, and were given printed material and audiotapes to take home that reviewed what they learned during class. They were encouraged to practice daily at home and to continue practicing after the seven-week course finished.

The women completed questionnaires one week after the last class, and at one and three months, to evaluate and score physical and psychological effects. Results showed a decrease in cancer-related symptoms and cancer-related intrusive thoughts; which means that the yoga program not only eased the symptoms, it also improved their peace of mind.

Yoga Improves Physical Functioning & Overall Health Perception

Another yoga study at the same center included 61 women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy. The yoga course greatly resembled the program of the former study, but the women attended hour-long classes twice a week for the duration of their radiation therapy. Participants were also given materials that reviewed the techniques to enhance their home practice.

The women filled out questionnaires before the program began, one week after their last radiation therapy session, and at one and three months. One week after radiation therapy, women reported an improved overall perception of health and better physical functioning scores.

An interesting positive correlation appeared at one- and three-month markers that piqued the interest of the researchers. One month after radiation therapy was completed, women reported greater amounts of cancer-related intrusive thoughts. Three months after therapy, the same women reported greater “finding meaning” scores, which refer to the ability to discover meaning in their cancer experience.

The correlation suggested to researchers that women who observed more intrusive thoughts also found more meaning in the experience. In a sense, the yoga practice may have helped the thoughts rise to the surface of the participants’ consciousness, allowing the women to acknowledge the obtrusive thoughts, and may have helped them process the thoughts into a greater meaning.

The same researchers received a $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2009 to study the effects of yoga on breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. The study is currently underway at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and is actively recruiting women. Researchers plan to complete the study in April 2014, and hopefully the participants will have more little miracles to report.

Michelle WhitmerAuthor bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20388445?dopt=Citation

http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01202851

http://psychcentral.com/news/archives/2006-05/uotm-lng051206.html

http://faculty.mdanderson.org/Lorenzo_Cohen/

http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/103/1/11.full.pdf+html

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pon.1021/abstract

http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/25/28/4387.short

Tips to Help Cancer Patients Ease Into a Detox Diet

Detox Diet For Breast Cancer

Begin a Detox Diet for Breast Cancer

Cancer patients often wonder if they’re healthy enough to start a detox diet, which is a plant-based or vegan diet that has a cleansing effect on the body. Even though it’s common to doubt your readiness and the potential benefits of such an endeavor when you’re coping with cancer, now is the time to embrace optimism and hope. It can be easy to lose hopefulness after hearing your diagnosis and your doctor going over your prognosis.

The therapeutic effect of a vegan diet on cancer is increasingly being studied worldwide, and the results are inspiring many patients to try a plant-based diet. The key for cancer patients is to ease into cleaner eating habits. Patients may be able to improve their health with following a healthy diet throughout the course of their cancer treatment. The following tips will help you transition and maintain your healthy efforts:

  • Decide to take it slow. Setting an intention to ease into a detox has a powerful effect on the mind and heart. It’s easy to become hard on yourself or feel disheartened if you slip up. By setting the intention to slowly transition into a detox diet, we send reaffirming signals to our ego, psyche and greater self. When we love ourselves, we heal ourselves.
  • Set a progressive plan. Whether you identify yourself as a planner or not, setting some simple guidelines will help you ease into a cleaner diet. The plan should gradually guide you into a more plant-based diet, week by week. A plant-based nutritionist can help you create a plan if this feels overwhelming for you, and many books are available for those who like to research.
  • Be patient and optimistic. The first week or two of consuming a cleaner diet will encourage the body to detoxify. Some mild side effects like headaches, fatigue or body aches are common and are actually a good sign that your efforts are working. Don’t get discouraged by the side effects of cleaner eating, because this phase will soon pass. Taking it slow will reduce side effects, and drinking purified water will help to flush out toxins. Remain optimistic, and consider using encouraging mantras or quotes to motivate you through challenges.
  • Use natural remedies. If mild side effects do arise, use natural remedies. A detox bath does wonders for body aches, skin detoxification and overall rejuvenation. Draw a hot bath, and mix in Epson salt or pink Himalayan salt, powered ginger, organic apple cider vinegar, or essential oils like tea tree oil, eucalyptus or lemongrass. Soak for 20 minutes or more, drink extra water, and follow with rest.
  • Celebrate even the smallest achievements. Finding little ways to reward your accomplishments — even if that is one day or one week of clean eating — will encourage you to keep up with a plant-based diet. Reward yourself with a gentle yoga class, a massage or any other relaxing experience you enjoy. Positive reinforcement will train the mind and body to maintain the good habits.

Keeping a journal and having friends or family available for support will help you through potential detox effects. These effects should feel relatively gentle and manageable, and if they don’t, contact your oncologist to discuss your symptoms. Taking care of yourself is of utmost importance, so remain mindful of your clean eating habits and move through this journey one day at a time.

Author bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of natural and holistic healing for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor and earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Rollins College in Florida. 
%d bloggers like this: