Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: Complementary Therapies

Today is the last day of May. At the end of the month, I like to step back and look at the "big picture." For those of us who follow breast cancer news and research daily, one study at a time, it can be easy to lose sight of it. At LATESTBreastCancer.com, we organize news and research by test or treatment option. The "big picture" in news and research for each option can be found on its page of our website.

This month, in our Complementary Therapies and Lifestyle sections, there were breast cancer research developments involving yoga, diet, Vitamin D and exercise.


Two studies confirmed the benefits of yoga for breast cancer patients.

According to a May 3, 2011 story in Cure Today (Reuters), even starting classes years after diagnosis can be beneficial. Female cancer patients who attended weekly yoga and meditation classes for eight weeks had a better quality of life than those who did not. The patients in the study had been diagnosed an average of four years before. Although the study was small, it was randomised, which adds scientific value.

On May 19, 2011, Medical News Today covered an MD Anderson study which found that patients who took yoga while undergoing radiation therapy experienced improved physical functioning, better general health and lower stress hormone levels than those who participated in simple stretching. Those on yoga were also "better able to find meaning in their cancer experience."

The Mediterranean Diet

A UK study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found "no strong association" between breast cancer risk and the consumption of a Mediterranean-type diet. In premenopausal women, there was a "nonsignificant" reduction in risk associated with increasing adherence to the diet.

Vitamin D

A May 11 study in Breast Cancer Research found no association between serum Vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk in a predominantly premenopausal population.

However, a March 8 study in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment revealed that Vitamin D deficiencies were common in women with breast cancer and associated with reduced spinal bone mineral density.

Also for breast cancer patients, low serum Vitamin D levels have previously been associated with more aggressive cancers or worse prognoses. An April 29 news story from the University of Rochester Medical Center, a December 14, 2010 Annals of Surgical Oncology study and a January 1, 2011 PLoS One study all found low serum Vitamin D levels to have prognostic value for patients.


According to a May 9 story in The Telegraph, about 20,000 British women could avoid breast cancer each year by exercising for a half hour a day, limiting alcohol to one drink a day and by losing weight.

Finally, it's not often that I find a research abstract amusing. A May 20 study in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship examined barriers to exercise among cancer survivors. Cancer survivors reported that they were "too busy" or had "no willpower" to exercise regularly. The researchers concluded that the "knowledge concerning these barriers" to exercise "may be helpful" in designing "physical activity interventions."

Doesn't it seem likely that anyone who doesn't exercise regularly may also report that they are "too busy" or have "no willpower?" Maybe someone will design a case-control study to confirm.

Please check back tomorrow for more daily breast cancer news updates.

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