CancerFatigueSleep (Insomnia)Yoga

Benefits of yoga in cancer survivors

Researchers at the Cancer Centers of the Carolinas, in Seneca, South Carolina, studied the effects of the Yoga for Cancer Survivors (YOCAS) program on sleep, fatigue, and quality of life.

The results were reported during the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

First, the details.

  • 410 non-metastatic, cancer survivors suffering from moderate or greater sleep disruption between 2 and 24 months after completing adjuvant therapy were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • Standard care monitoring
    • Standard care plus the 4-weeks of yoga (twice weekly 75 minute sessions).
  • The patients hadn’t participated in yoga during the previous 3 months.
  • The YOCAS program consisting of pranayama (breathing exercises), 18 gentle Hatha and Restorative yoga asanas (postures), and meditation.
  • Sleep quality, fatigue and quality-of-life were assessed.

And, the results.

  • There were significant differences in sleep quality, fatigue, and quality-of-life between groups at the end of the study.
  • Yoga participants demonstrated significantly greater improvements in sleep quality, fatigue, and quality-of-life compared to controls.
  • The yoga group reduced its use of sleep medication, while the control group increased medication use.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “The brief community-based YOCAS yoga intervention significantly improves sleep quality, fatigue, and quality-of-life while reducing sleep medication use among survivors.”

Others have reported benefit from yoga in cancer patients, here and here.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City lists yoga as likely to be beneficial in cancer patients.

1/31/11 19:41 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.