(HealthDay News) — For women with breast cancer, incorporating yoga into radiotherapy is associated with a lasting improvement in quality of life, according to a study published online March 3 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Previous research incorporating yoga (YG) into radiotherapy (XRT) for women with breast cancer finds improved quality of life (QOL),” researchers wrote. “However, shortcomings in this research limit the findings.”

Kavita D. Chandwani, MD, from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and colleagues investigated the impact of integrating yoga into radiotherapy for women with stages 0 to III breast cancer. Women were recruited before radiotherapy and randomly assigned to receive yoga (n = 53) or stretching (n = 56) three times a week for 6 weeks during radiotherapy or waitlist control (n = 54).

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The researchers identified significantly greater increases in physical component scale scores of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short-form survey in the yoga group versus the waitlist group at 1 and 3 months after radiotherapy (both P = 0.01).

Increased physical functioning was seen in the yoga group at 1, 3, and 6 months, compared with stretching and waitlist groups (P < 0.05), whereas a significant difference was seen for stretching and waitlist groups at only 3 months (P < 0.02).

The yoga and stretching groups also had reduced fatigue by the end of radiotherapy, but no group differences were seen for mental health and sleep quality.

At the end of treatment and 1 month after radiotherapy, cortisol slope was steepest for the yoga group versus stretching (P = 0.023 and 0.05, respectively) and waitlist (P = 0.008 and 0.04, respectively) groups.

“Yoga improved quality of life and physiological changes associated with radiotherapy beyond the benefits of simple stretching exercises, and these benefits appear to have long-term durability,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Chandwani KD, Perkins G, Nagendra HR, et al. Randomized, Controlled Trial of Yoga in Women With Breast Cancer Undergoing Radiotherapy. J Clin Oncol. 2014; doi:10.1200/JCO.2012.48.2752.