Background: Advances in cancer treatment have markedly improved survival with more people having to endure cancer symptoms longer than ever before. This causes severe psychological distress and coupled with cancer related intrusive thoughts can exacerbate symptoms and impact neuroendocrine and immune responses in these patients. Yoga is an ancient mind body intervention that has found beneficial effects in reducing psychological distress and improving quality of life in cancer patients.
Aim: To evaluate the effects of integrated yoga intervention vs. supportive therapy on mood states, quality of life and neuroendocrine immune responses in both early and metastatic breast cancer patients
Methods:We have conducted four randomized controlled trials comparing yoga with supportive therapy intervention in both early breast cancer patients taking conventional treatment and those with metastatic breast cancer survivors. We have assessed symptoms, distress, mood states, diurnal salivary cortisol rhythms, genotoxic stress and immune responses in these studies.
Results:Results from these studies with breast cancer patients has shown yoga to reduce affective states (anxiety and depression), perceived stress, treatment related distress and toxicity (CINV), modulate antitumor and anti-inflammatory immune responses (TNF alpha, NK cell counts) following surgery, reduce genotoxic stress (DNA damage following adjuvant radiotherapy) and normalize diurnal salivary cortisol rhythms thus modulating the psychoneuroendocrinoimmune axes .
Conclusions: Results from these studies suggest yoga to have benefit finding in cancer patients. The basic mechanism of yoga interventions in conferring these effects need to be evaluated further.