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Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
Date:5/20/2010

Study found those who practiced it for four weeks after chemo slept better, used fewer sleep aids

THURSDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer survivors who participated in a month-long program in the ancient art of yoga reported enhanced quality of life, better sleep, less fatigue and less need for sleep medications.

"This is a readily applicable approach that improves quality of life and reduces medicine intake in cancer survivors. This is a real positive," said Dr. Douglas W. Blayney, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). "This is also a creative application of scientific technique to complementary and alternative medical approaches. This applies real science.

"There is an increased importance of amelioration of the complications of therapy in long-term cancer survivors," added Blayney, who is medical director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Michigan. "There are literally millions of patients to whom this might be applicable."

The results of the trial, the largest randomized, controlled study on this topic to date, are to be presented at ASCO's annual meeting, being held in June in Chicago.

Some 80 percent of cancer patients have trouble sleeping while undergoing treatment, and about two-thirds say the problems persist after treatment ends.

Despite these large numbers, few solutions exist.

The study authors involved 410 cancer survivors, average age 54, who had finished treatment two to 24 months before and who still reported greater-than-average sleep disruptions. Almost all of the participants were women, and three-quarters had had breast cancer, although the cancer had not spread. None had done any yoga in the past three months.

Participants were randomized either to receive regular follow-up care for cancer survivors or to receive regular care plus two 75-minute sessions of yoga per week for four weeks.

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