Exercise is medicine: Yoga's influence on cortisol and the cancer patient

Source: Townsend Letter, August/September 2010

Research has increasingly pointed to yoga as a restorative exercise that provides survival benefits to cancer patients. The low-intensity exercise has been shown to lower stress and to help the body develop stress-fighting mechanisms in the long run. Genes and hormones play a part in the equation, with hormones such as cortisol being affected—cortisol influences gene expression and can reduce the risk of cancers and gene damage.

Yoga reduces cortisol levels and improves the quality of the body’s circadian rhythm by restoring cortisol curves to a normal pattern. Though more research is needed on the subject, yoga’s cortisol-regulating mechanisms are a major contributor to its benefits to cancer treatment in patients.