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Yoga beneficial for cancer patients: Study

Press Association logoPress Association 6/06/2017 Jane Kirby

Cancer patients sleep better and suffer less pain and fatigue if they practise yoga, research suggests.

New studies presented at the world's largest cancer conference in Chicago found that as little as four weeks of practising yoga, including gentle hatha yoga, can improve wellbeing and reduce tiredness.

The study on 321 cancer patients examined the impact of yoga on cancer-related fatigue and sleep.

Patients in the study, 77 per cent of whom had breast cancer, were split into two groups, with one receiving usual care and the other following a four-week yoga program.

The results showed that yoga significantly improved both fatigue and sleep quality, with around a fifth of the effect on fatigue due to better sleep.

But 37 per cent of improvement in fatigue was actually put down to less daytime napping.

"One of the most striking results was that the yoga group felt less fatigued but actually spent less time asleep," Po-Ju Lin, from the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York, who worked on the study said.

"This is an interesting finding because some people think they feel cancer fatigue so they just need to rest, but actually cancer-related fatigue is not like other fatigue that you can sleep off or rest away.

"Our data suggests that those who practise yoga sleep less. By adding yoga practice into their daily lives it helped them to remain more active and sleep less."

She said doctors should prescribe yoga as a "low-risk, low-cost treatment" to all cancer patients with cancer-related fatigue.

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