Written by Joanne Gailius, March 2019
Cancer is a diagnosis that none of us wants to hear, yet 33 to 50% of us will experience that moment in a doctor's office……"You have cancer." There are so many advances in oncology (cancer medicine) from diagnosis to treatment yet cancer patients and survivors continue to face unique challenges in their physical and mental health over their lifetime.
A December 2018 "white paper" (a concise report that informs readers about a complex issue) explored the growing literature available to us regarding the effects of yoga on the continuum of cancer care. Medical research has shown that yoga increases strength and flexibility, improves balance and prevents falls, helps maintain a healthy body weight, improves psychological well-being, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels, improves sleep and reduces fatigue, reduces stress, enhances the immune system, reduces inflammation and improves quality of life. We health care providers seek evidence-informed, cost-effective ways in which we can help people to manage the short and long term effects of cancer and its treatments. This paper clearly supports cancer-specific yoga intervention as a supportable part of cancer intervention.
Yoga is a complex, holistic system that includes movement and postures, breathing, restorative and relaxation practices that support physical and mental health. PubMed gathered 435 studies from observational studies to clinical trials regarding yoga as a part of cancer care. The general conclusion is that yoga can help adult cancer patients and survivors manage symptoms and side effects as well as lead longer, healthier lives. A variety of cancers were studied, although the most numerous studies were on breast cancer; they studied people before, during and after treatment. Yoga is not a cure-all, but there is ample evidence that well-planned yoga classes, done consistently and over time, have measurable benefits on healing and long term health.
From all the studies, these are the conclusions regarding yoga for people with cancer:
Yoga comes in many forms and classes vary greatly. Again, from all the studies, these are the conclusions regarding the best options of yoga for people with cancer and cancer survivors:
Creston is a wonderful valley in which to live. We have many opportunities to help us all live our lives well over our lifespan, through our ages and stages. Should you face a cancer diagnosis, please ask for community support. There are support groups, mental and physical health options, home visiting nurses, care aids, PTs and OTs and cancer-specific yoga classes at The Yoga Room in NW Blvd. at the east end of town.