In a test with breast cancer patients, those who practiced yoga for six months after their treatment had a 57-percent drop in fatigue.
And chronic inflammation linked to other health problems was also way down.
Study volunteers practiced yoga in small groups twice a week for 12 weeks, after their treatments were done. None had done yoga practice before.
There was a cumulative effect to the yoga.
"The amount women practiced made a huge difference. The more a woman practiced, the more she benefited.It was like a dose-response effect, says Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D, the lead researcher on the study.
By the end of the 12 weeks, the women had less fatigue and more energy. Doctors also measured levels of several blood proteins linked with inflammation. Cancer survivors tend to have higher levels of inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease, as well as frailty and decline that accompanies aging.
"An internvention that reduces inflammation could potentially be very beneficial," says Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser.
The research team focused on breast cancer survivors because the rigors of the treatment can be so taxing on patients.
Although the study was done with breast cancer survivors, the doctors believe it can be applied to all cancer types.