Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, and the OSU Stress & Health Lab are examining a new way to relieve cancer-related symptoms-- by using yoga!
In a previous study at the Stress & Health Lab, women who routinely practiced yoga had lower amounts of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in their blood. IL-6 is an important part of the body’s inflammatory response and elevated levels are linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, arthritis, and other age-related debilitating diseases. Reducing inflammation may provide substantial short- and long-term health benefits. The study compared "expert" and "novice" yoga practitioners and found that the experts walked into the study with lower levels of inflammation than the novices. In addition, the experts had a limited stress response compared to the novices after completing mild stress tasks. Ultimately, this study showed that long-term yoga practice can help reduce an individual’s risk of illness.
The current yoga study goes a step further by examining the effects of yoga in breast cancer patients – specifically looking at its affect on mood, fatigue, and immune function. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, participants enjoy 2 weekly yoga classes 90 minutes in length, which include a combination of restorative postures, breathing techniques and meditation. Along with the potential psychological and physiological benefits of the practice, participants may also benefit from the social support network formed during classes with fellow breast cancer survivors.
Lori, one of the original participants, said that the study opened her eyes to the benefits of yoga. "I learned so much about my body and the healing effects of the breathing, exercise and relaxation techniques. Yoga should be a must for survivors - the benefits are huge." Another participant said, “I wish I had this [yoga classes] when I had radiation. It would be great if they had this or a room at the new cancer center [to practice yoga].”
The study is looking for a total of 200 women from the Greater Columbus Area who have been diagnosed with stage 0, I, II or IIIa breast cancer and who have completed treatment (surgery, radiation, or chemo) within the past two years. Participation involves 4 visits to the OSU Medical Center, 24 free yoga classes and the opportunity to earn $250 for completing all visits. If you or someone you know might be eligible, please find out more information on our website (www.stressandhealth.org), email email@example.com, or call (614) 293-4736.