Yoga May Help Breast Cancer Survivors Suffering from Hot Flashes

by: cancercompass

A recent Journal of Clinical Oncology editorial cited several studies suggesting yoga and other mind-body techniques are suitable alternatives to hormone therapies for treating hot flashes and night sweats experienced by many breast cancer survivors.

According to the editorial, hot flashes and night sweats are experienced by 65% of women following traditional breast cancer treatment. These symptoms occur more in women taking tamoxifen or having chemotherapy treatments. Often hot flashes are so severe, the editorial states that many women discontinue tamoxifen and other endocrine therapies.

The gold standard for treating hot flashes is an estrogen therapy, alone or combined with progesterone to regulate existing estrogen fluctuations that cause the symptoms. Estrogen, however, is not recommended for breast cancer survivors.

Instead of seeking herbal remedies that could have adverse effects, the editorial suggests mind-body interventions, such as: "paced respiration, biofeedback, relaxation, meditation, yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and hypnosis."

These low-cost, minimal risk techniques are attractive to breast cancer survivors, but according to the editorial, pose problems for researchers. Many of the studies report poor adherence to protocol and lack adequate control groups. In addition, participants may drop out of the studies because they are too time intensive and don't provide instantaneous results.

Despite the difficulty in producing solid evidentiary studies, the editorial views mind-body approaches as potentially safe, effective ways for breast cancer survivors to reduce hot flashes and night sweats.

Last month, researchers also identified acupuncture as an effective complementary therapy for reducing hot flashes caused by conventional breast cancer treatments.