Improvements were reported as soon as the treatment phase of the trial was completed. The yoga group reported that they were sleeping better. They were found to have an average of 41% less fatigue and their vitality score was 12% higher compared with the control group. At the 3-month follow-up, reported fatigue was 57% lower among the yoga group than the control group, and a 20% reduction in inflammatory markers was seen as well.

Depression, however, was not significantly different between the two groups at the end of treatment or at 3-month follow-up. Secondary analyses showed that the frequency of yoga practice was more strongly associated with improvements in fatigue and vitality than with depression.

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The researchers concluded that fatigue and inflammation were substantially reduced in those survivors who engaged in yoga practice. Vitality was higher among the yoga practitioners immediately posttreatment, and both vitality and fatigue were improved at 3 months posttreatment. In addition, inflammatory markers IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-1β were lower in the yoga group.

Furthermore, the women who practiced more frequently saw greater benefit from the treatment. “This is the first physical activity trial with breast cancer survivors to show significant inflammatory changes,” the researchers said. “If yoga dampens or limits fatigue and inflammation, then regular practice could have substantial health benefits.”1

Bette Weinstein Kaplan is a medical writer based in Tenafly, New Jersey.


1. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Bennett JM, Andridge R, et al. Yoga’s impact on inflammation, mood, and fatigue in breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial [published online ahead of print January 27, 2014]. J Clin Oncol. 2014.