New York, Jun 8 (IANS): Walking for half an hour daily as well as practising a soft form of yoga can help curb spread of the cancer to other body parts as well as stop its return, claimed three new studies.
The studies were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago, US.
Sedentary lifestyle is a known risk factor for cancer, affecting more than 18 million people every year globally. Studies have shown the importance of physical activity in warding away the risk of cancer.
The first study led by the University of Rochester Medical Centre and not peer-reviewed yet involved more than 500 cancer patients to look into the impact of yoga's effect on inflammation -- a hallmark of cancer that can both promote and constrain tumours, and also lead to spread around the body.
The patients, who were treated for cancer between two months and five years earlier, took part in 75-minute sessions of "hatha yoga" especially catered for cancer survivors or health education classes twice a week.
A series of blood tests after four weeks revealed that those who took up yoga had "significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers" compared with patients in the other group.
"Our data suggest that yoga significantly reduces inflammation among cancer survivors," the study's authors wrote in a report published at the ASCO meeting.
"Clinicians should consider prescribing yoga for survivors experiencing inflammation, which may lead to a high chronic toxicity burden and increased risk of progression, recurrence, and second cancers."
"What I say to doctors is you should recommend to them (cancer patients) yoga as an option and you should help them find places in their community where they can do it," Karen Mustian, the lead researcher, was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Mustian said that 20 years ago, doctors used to think all cancer patients should take it easy, but now most of them recommend exercise.
The second study on 173 patients aged 60 or older examined yoga's impact on fatigue and quality of life.
The participants attended 75-minute yoga or health education classes twice a week for four weeks.
Yoga was found to be better at helping relieve fatigue and maintain quality of life, the Rochester team found.
A third study from the Instituto de Medicina Integral in Brazil, involved more than 2,600 cancer patients.
Physically active patients, defined as going for at least one 30-minute walk five days a week, were found to reduce their risk of dying by almost a fifth.
The results showed the risk of death was higher in those with a sedentary lifestyle. After 180 days, 90 per cent of people in the active group were still alive, compared with 74 per cent in the sedentary group, the report said.
Anything cancer patients could do to avoid sitting or lying down for long periods, no matter how little, even performing light chores or carrying shopping home could be helpful, Dr Jurema Telles de Oliveira Lima from the institute, was quoted as saying.
"We also have to educate the family. We have to tell the family that it (physical activity) can be best for the patient and also on a psychological level as well," she said.