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Breast cancer patients benefit from qigong

Promise - Spring 2013

An ancient Chinese practice could make life better for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

MD Anderson researchers have linked qigong with decreased depression and increased quality of life in women undergoing radiotherapy. Past research has shown an association between depression and worse outcomes for cancer patients.

“It’s important for cancer patients to manage stress because it can have a profoundly negative effect on biological systems and inflammatory profiles,” says Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., a professor in MD Anderson’s Departments of General Oncology and Behavioral Science and director of the Integrative Medicine Program.

The study, published in the journal Cancer, is the first to examine qigong in patients receiving radiation therapy and to include a follow-up period to assess benefits over time. Researchers found that women who did qigong experienced a decrease in depressive symptoms, while women in the control group didn't experience any decrease in symptoms.

The authors note that additional research is needed to understand the possible biological mechanisms involved and further explore the use of qigong in ethnically diverse populations with different forms of cancer.

Research funding came from the National Center Institute.

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