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Qigong Combats Fatigue, Stress in Cancer Survivors

Update Date: Oct 30, 2013 02:29 PM EDT

A Chinese meditation technique called Qigong may help fight stress and fatigue in prostate cancer survivors, a new study suggests.

One of the most common cancer-related symptoms reported by prostate cancer survivors receiving androgen deprivation therapy is severe fatigue, which can last for months or years following treatment. Fatigue significantly lowers survivors' quality of life by causing stress and hampering their ability to perform daily activities.

Doctors often recommend cancer patients to participate in physical activity as a nonpharmacological way to manage cancer-related fatigue and levels of distress. Researchers in the latest study wanted to see if the mind-body activity Qigong can help lift older cancer survivors out of severe fatigue.

Qigong, the practice of combining slow, flowing movements with coordinated deep breathing and meditative exercises, is performed at a slow pace and is not overly physically exertive.

Lead researchers Dr. Anita Y. Kinney at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center and Dr. Rebecca Campo at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recruited 40 participants who suffered from high levels of fatigue for a 12-week randomized controlled trial. Participants had an average age of 72.

Half of participants were assigned to Qigong classes, and the other half to stretching classes.

Besides being more popular with participants, Qigong helped combat fatigue and stress in participants.

"Qigong participants reported significant declines in how much fatigue or distress they experienced, compared to those who participated in the stretching class," Kinney said in a news release.

"Qigong may be an effective nonpharmacological intervention for the management of senior prostate cancer survivors' fatigue and distress," Campo added.

The findings are published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship

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