Yoga and Meditation Proven to Benefit Cancer Patients


Integrative therapies, such as yoga, meditation and massage, are often recommended to patients during and after cancer treatment. The conventional wisdom is that such therapies help reduce anxiety, relieve side effects and improve quality of life. But, until now, there’s been little hard evidence regarding the effectiveness and safety of these practices.

Now there's proof that integrative treatments work. The Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) recently released guidelines concluding that specific therapies result in real benefits to patients with breast cancer. Researchers from Columbia University, along with teams from MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Michigan, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and other institutions, reviewed data from a sixteen-year period to determine which therapies were most effective.

Knowing What Works

From this, the Society compiled recommendations of what works best for specific situations and side effects:

  • To relieve anxiety and stress: Music therapy, meditation, stress management and yoga

  • To alleviate depression and mood disorders: Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massage and music therapy

  • To improve quality of life: Meditation and yoga

  • To reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: Acupressure and acupuncture

The new guidelines also indicate that no strong evidence exists to support the use of dietary supplements or botanical agents to manage the side effects of breast cancer treatment. In addition, because of the risk of drug interactions, it’s important to proceed with caution and check with your doctor before using supplements.

Healing Mind, Body and Spirit

Cancer centers across the country are beginning to introduce complementary medicine and integrative oncology programs. Complementary medicine uses healing therapies as a supplement to conventional medicine; integrative oncology incorporates complementary and integrative therapies into conventional cancer care.

Closer to home, we’ve been practicing complementary medicine and integrative oncology for years. Our PhaseOne prehabilitation program is designed to help patients prepare for treatment, tolerate side effects and maintain well-being. Patients and caregivers can experience meditation and chair yoga through our free weekly wellness sessions and take advantage of Reiki, nutritional guidance and other health coaching.

We offer these services because we believe in their benefits, benefits validated by evidence that they make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. Learn more about healing therapies at The Ghosh Center.