Health briefs: Study finds yoga helps breast cancer survivors

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Breast cancer survivors who practiced yoga twice a week for three months reduced fatigue by 57 percent on average and inflammation by up to 20 percent, according to a study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University.

Chronic inflammation is a factor in coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer's. Researchers from OSU's Comprehensive Cancer Center and Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research focused on breast cancer survivors because treatment takes so much out of them.

Typically, cardio-respiratory fitness declines in breast cancer survivors because "the treatment is so debilitating and they are so tired, and the less you do physically, the less you're able to do," said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology, lead author.

Physical inactivity may be one of the reasons why inflammation levels are higher in cancer survivors, she said.

Two hundred women ranging in age from 27 to 76 took part in the study. They practiced yoga for 90 minutes twice a week in groups of four to 20.

Researchers asked participants to evaluate their level of energy, and measured three markers for inflammation immediately after the yoga sessions ended and again three months later. At six months, participants reported less fatigue and had lower levels of three inflammation-related proteins in their blood than they had had at three months.

The study, which was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute, was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Sit less, exercise more

Sitting for long periods increases the risk of heart failure in men, even if they exercise regularly, according to a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente in California.

Researchers followed 84,179 men between the ages of 45 and 69. They found that:

■ Men with low levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to suffer heart failure than were men who exercised a lot.

■ Outside of work, men who spent five or more hours a day sitting were 34 percent more likely to suffer heart failure than men who spent no more than two hours a day sitting, regardless of how much they exercised.

■ The risk of heart failure more than doubled in men who sat for more than five hours a day and got little exercise, compared to men who sat for less than two hours and worked out a lot.

Other recent studies have documented health risks from prolonged periods of sitting, but this was the first to examine the link between heart failure and sedentary behavior. The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

Jack Kelly: or 412-263-1476.

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