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Large NCI grant will test the effect of Tibetan yoga on women with breast cancer

HOUSTON - Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have received a $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the effects of Tibetan yoga in women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy.

The award is the largest ever made to study Tibetan yoga in cancer patients, say the researchers, who published a 2004 study in Cancer that found the practice led to significant sleep improvements in patients with lymphoma. Another small study of Tibetan yoga also found improvements in cancer-related symptoms and intrusive thoughts in women with breast cancer.

With this grant support, the research team will conduct a large randomized trial that will compare Tibetan yoga versus simple stretching or usual care in women who will be undergoing chemotherapy to treat their breast cancer. Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Departments of Behavioral Science and Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, and the director of the Integrative Medicine Program at M. D. Anderson is the study's principal investigator.

Most of what is known about yoga in the West comes from the Indian tradition, but Cohen has chosen to study yogic practices from Tibet. His team was the first to design pilot studies that examined the benefits of these techniques to cancer patients.

"Cancer and its treatment are associated with considerable distress, impaired quality of life, poor mental health and reduced physical function. This is particularly true for women with breast cancer who receive multi-modality treatment over an extended period of time," he says. "For thousands of years, Tibetans have been employing a form of yoga that we think could help ameliorate the treatment-related morbidity that accumulates over time in cancer patients."

The study's yoga instructor and co-investigator is Argentinean Alejandro Chaoul, Ph.D., one of few individuals in the United States trained in Tibetan yoga. "Like
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Contact: Nancy W. Jensen
nwjensen@mdanderson.org
713-794-1584
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
12-May-2006


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