Immune and Psychosocial Benefits of Iyengar Yoga for Breast Cancer Patients

Immune and Psychosocial Benefits of Iyengar Yoga for Breast Cancer Patients

Cancer treatment itself induces premature menopause in the vast majority of women. Thus, women are exposed to the risks of menopause related disease for many more years than the average woman. This creates a dilemma. Some breast cancer survivors may be at greater risk of dying from heart disease or osteoporosis than for recurrence of their cancer.


Today, twenty-six million American women are living with disabilities, varying conditions that make their roles even more challenging because of physical or mental limitations. Various diseases and conditions produce some form of disability, and a number of them disproportionately affect women. In general, the severity of a disability is described in terms of how much that disability limits one’s daily activities. Women are more likely than men to be limited in the amount or kind of major activity they can perform.

Biological, psychological, and social consequences of menopause in breast cancer survivors, with special attention to the effects of chemotherapy is most importent.For early stage breast cancer there are currently two alternative treatment strategies available that are thought to be equally effective at preventing cancer recurrence and prolonging survival after cancer. Similarly, a variety of strategies for surveillance after breast cancer have been found to equally effective in prolonging survival after breast cancer.

Beyond the goal of preventing recurrence and prolonging life, the aim of treatment and care for early stage breast cancer is to ensure the best possible outcome for a patient, including freedom from excessive concern about cancer, a high quality of life, and optimal psychological adjustment. This project will investigate the effect that involvement in treatment decision-making, different methods of cancer treatment and different strategies of surveillance have on the quality of life and psychological health of cancer survivors.

Women who have had breast cancer often say that they are physically and spiritually transformed by having faced a life-threatening illness. These changes can permeate all facets of life and both strain and strengthen relationships.Clinicians should inquire about mood disorders, fatigue, anxiety, impaired cognitive performance, and sexual dysfunction, since these problems are prevalent among survivors of breast cancer.

Psychosocial distress and problems with adjustment are most intense during the first year after diagnosis and therapy, and they tend to improve over time.99 Risk factors for more pronounced psychological and social distress include preexisting psychosocial, family, or marital stress; a more intense initial response to diagnosis and treatment; younger age; negative body image; and treatment-related side effects, such as menopause or lymphedema.100,101 The use of dietary or nutritional supplements and complementary or alternative therapies among survivors of breast cancer is quite common and may be a marker of an impaired quality of life.

American Cancer Society that support people living with cancer. Information and interactive stations will help people incorporate physical activity into their lives.With a theme of " Energize Your Life: Get Moving". Some of the activities will be dancing, golfing, tai chi, yoga, exercising with pets and adaptive exercises. Whether it’s running a marathon or working in a garden, physical activity is important in the life of any cancer survivor.
Everyone can participate, no matter what the level of fitness.

Exercise contributes to better moods, higher self-esteem and it fights other diseases like heart disease and diabetes. And exercise may help women with breast cancer to avoid dying from that disease.Anything we do for prevention -- losing weight, not drinking alcohol -- is directed at lowering estrogen. And, in all populations, physical activity decreases the amount of estrogen circulating in the body.

In breast cancer survivors, the Iyengar method of yoga not only promotes psychological well-being, but seems to offer immune system benefits as well, according to research reported Monday at the American Physiological Society meeting in Washington, DC.

The Iyengar method, created by B. K. S. Iyengar, "is considered to be one of the more active forms of yoga," lead researcher and presenter Pamela E. Schultz from Washington State University, Spokane, told Reuters Health.

"It still has the meditative component, but it's been shown to have a physical output equivalent to a moderate-intensity exercise," she explained.

Schultz and colleagues randomly assigned 10 breast cancer survivors to 8 weeks of Iyengar yoga (2 classes and 1 solo session at home per week) and 9 to a wait-list control group. The women had an average age of 61 years, were about 4 years out from initial cancer diagnosis and were being treated with hormone therapy. None of the women had any prior experience with Iyengar yoga.

Psychosocial tests showed that the "demands of illness," which reflects the burden of hardship of being a breast cancer survivor, fell in the yoga participants.

"Psychosocial variables indicated improved quality of life with Iyengar yoga," Schultz said.

Importantly, these improvements correlated with decreased activation of an important immune system protein called NF-kB, which is a marker of stress in the body.

"So it's possible," Schultz said, "that decreased activation of NF-kB indicates decreased stress in the body, which would be a positive thing. NF-kB can be activated by any type of stress in the body, like physical stress and mental stress."

Schultz plans to continue her research by looking at different immune system proteins to see if they too show changes for the better, "which would confirm immune and psychosocial benefits of Iyengar yoga."

Give yourself a break. It's going to take a bit longer than you think. Try and pace yourself. There are good days and bad days. You might really feel well for a few days and then you might not feel so good again. Fatigue is one of the big issues post-treatment, and there will be days when you just want to go back to bed and rest.

“I think every patient who’s been treated for cancer needs a roadmap. First and foremost, a patient needs to have a very clear description of the therapies he or she was given, and any substantial complications or interventions that were done in addition to the cancer care at the time of treatment,” says Castle, who is also director of the Long Term Follow Up Clinic at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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