(HealthDay News) — For breast cancer survivors, a 12-week yoga intervention improves fatigue and vitality and is associated with reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines, according to a study published online January 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, from The Ohio State University in Columbus, and colleagues examined the impact of yoga on inflammation, mood, and fatigue in a randomized three-month controlled trial involving 200 breast cancer survivors. Participants were randomized to 12-week, twice-weekly, 90-minute hatha yoga classes or wait-list control.

The researchers found that, immediately post-treatment, vitality was higher (P=0.01) in the yoga versus the control group, although fatigue was not lower (P>0.05). At three-months post-treatment, participants in the yoga group had lower fatigue (P=0.002), higher vitality (P=0.01), and lower levels of interleukin (IL)-6, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), and IL-1β (P=0.027, 0.027, and 0.037, respectively), compared with controls. No difference was seen in depression at either time point (P>0.2). In a planned secondary analysis, at both post-treatment visits, yoga practice frequency was more strongly associated with fatigue (P=0.019 and 0.0001) and vitality (P=0.016 and 0.0045), but not depression (P>0.05), than simple group assignment. Larger changes were seen with more frequent practice. Increasing yoga practice also correlated with decreased IL-6 and IL-1β production (P=0.01 and 0.03, respectively), but not with TNF-α (P>0.05).

“If yoga dampens or limits both fatigue and inflammation, then regular practice could have substantial health benefits,” the authors write.

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