Attending at least 2 Tibetan yoga sessions per week may improve chemotherapy-related fatigue among patients with breast cancer, according to research published in Cancer.1

Previous study suggests that yoga may be beneficial for patients receiving chemotherapy, which can cause sleep disturbance and fatigue. Yet few of these studies include controls and long-term follow-up.

For this randomized study, researchers evaluated whether, among patients with breast cancer who were receiving or had received chemotherapy, Tibetan yoga would improve fatigue and mitigate sleep disturbance more effectively than an active stretching program or a usual care control group.

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Of 933 eligible patients, 352 were randomly assigned, and 227 were included in this analysis (74 in the yoga group, 68 in the stretching group, and 85 in the control group). Baseline characteristics were similar between the groups.

Although no significant differences were noted for sleep disturbance or fatigue between any of the groups, patients who practiced yoga at least twice a week had improved sleep compared with the control group at 3 and 6 months post-intervention.

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The stretching group, for unknown reasons, was the only group to not have improved fatigue over time.

The authors concluded that these results “suggest that it is ideal to have [more than] 4 in-person sessions to improve patient outcomes, whereas to our knowledge the minimum dose necessary to improve outcomes was previously unknown.”


  1. Chaoul A, Milbury K, Spelman A, et al. Randomized trial of Tibetan yoga in patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. Cancer. 2017 Sep 20. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30938 [Epub ahead of print]