African American women are less likely to use yoga than their White counterparts. ACEF wants to change that!
Before we get to the 9 reasons why yoga makes life better for breast cancer survivors, I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss health disparities in breast cancer survival and quality of life.
There is a Need to Understand Yoga and Breast Cancer Survivorship Among African American Women
Even though we have seen significant advances in breast cancer survivorship, for many African American women, challenges, and gaps in relevant information remain. As a result, these gaps in information may contribute to health disparities in breast cancer survival and quality of life. Therefore African-American women may experience decreased quality of life in breast cancer survivorship (Coughlin et al. 2015).
Particularly pertinent are two health disparities; compared to White breast cancer survivors, Black survivors are more likely to be obese and less likely to engage in physical activity.
Yoga, Attitude, Fatigue, Depression, and Sleep Quality
Yeruva et al. (2016) completed a study in which fourteen African American breast cancer survivors participated in an 8-week restorative yoga program. The women were between 33-64 years, at least 12 months post-treatment and completed measures of Theory of Planned Behavior.
Most noteworthy, the study revealed significant relationships between attitude and fatigue and attitude and sleep quality. The women who reported less fatigue and better sleep quality at baseline had more positive attitudes towards engaging in the yoga program (Yeruva et al., 2016).
Furthermore, there was a correlation between depression and subjective norm. Women who reported lower depression scores at baseline tended to have more support from others to engage in the yoga program (Yeruva et al., 2016).
Pertaining sleep quality and perceived behavioral control, the women who reported better sleep quality at baseline were likely to be more confident in their ability to engage in the yoga program (Yeruva et al., 2016).
Gaps in Relevant Breast Cancer Survivorship Information Remain
Considerable information exists about the effectiveness of mind-body medicine interventions for alleviating distress and improving the quality of life among breast cancer survivors. Unfortunately, this information does not seem to have reached African-American women with a breast cancer diagnosis and in breast cancer survivorship.
We invite you to the Living Well in Breast Cancer Survivorship (LWBCS) program. LWBCS is for breast cancer survivors, up to 74 years of age, living with or without metastatic disease.
About the Living Well in Breast Cancer Survivorship Program
The Living Well in Breast Cancer Survivorship (LWBCS) provides breast cancer survivors an opportunity for support to address emotional, social, and functional symptoms of the disease and side effects of treatment. The yoga classes are offered under the umbrella of the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation’s (ACEF) LWBCS program. The LWBCS program classes are a collaboration between ACEF and Johnson Family Cancer Center (JFCC) in Muskegon. All classes are FREE for breast cancer patients and survivors until March 31, 2017, thanks to a community grant from Susan G. Komen Michigan.
Yoga, Mood and Anxiety
Mind-body medicine modalities focus on the interchange between the brain, mind, body, and behavior. Along those lines, an additional aspect of mind-body medicine modalities are the dynamic processes in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors may directly affect health (Niles et al., 2014).
For example, we now know that yoga with its postures (asanas), breathing methods (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana) can potentially impact the expression of the genes of your circulating inflammatory markers and neurotransmitters (Bower et al., 2014; Streeter et al., 2007).
As far as the brain and mind are concerned, mind-body medicine may lend itself as a treatment for conditions with low γ-aminobutyric (GABA) levels such as depression, mood and anxiety disorders, and seizures. In one study, there was a 27% increase in yoga practitioners’ GABA levels. GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (Streeter et al., 2007).
Yoga and Inflammatory Signaling
In another study, a 12-week intervention reduced pro-inflammatory transcription factors and a sympathetic nervous system signaling (SNS) transcription factor that stimulates your fight-or-flight response. In the same investigation, yoga increased activity of an anti-inflammatory receptor in practitioners (Bower et al., 2014).
Carson et al. (2007) and Kiecolt-Glaser et al. (2014) show that practice in a small group twice a week can have real benefits for breast cancer survivors with or without metastatic disease.
The Carson et al. (2007) study resulted in breast cancer survivors who practiced more experiencing significantly lower levels of pain and fatigue, and higher levels of invigoration, acceptance, and relaxation (p. 331).
The Kiecolt-Glaser et al. (2014) group reports that immediately after treatment, fatigue was not lower, but vitality was higher in the yoga group. Three months after the women had finished the program, fatigue was less, and vitality was greater in the yoga group.
Effects of Yoga on Key Cytokines
Key cytokines were lower for yoga participants compared with the control group. Cytokines are cell signaling molecules. Cytokines facilitate cell to cell communication in immune responses. They also stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection, and trauma.
These findings show that regular mind-body medicine practice, over several months, can help you reduce fatigue and lower inflammation, perhaps even address stress and anxiety. Even if you have been inactive for a while and had a limitation of range of motion, yoga postures can be adapted to your abilities.
9 Reasons Why Life is Better with Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors
… and why it is probably a good idea to join the Living Well in Breast Cancer Survivorship yoga program (Bower et al., 2014; Carson et al., 2007; Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2014; Streeter et al., 2007). Regular yoga practice may:
- Help you regain a sense of serenity, security, and confidence in your body
- Increase your strength, improve balance, and quality of life
- Help you relax and revitalize
- The focus on breath places an emphasis on accepting moment-to-moment experiences whatever they may be
- Help you to increase vitality, decrease fatigue, reduce inflammation, improve mood and sleep quality
- Help to improve mental and physical energy
- If you are a woman with metastatic breast cancer, regular gentle yoga practice, breath work, and meditation may help you experience lower pain, greater invigoration, and acceptance
- Be useful in helping you adjust to the challenges of living with cancer as chronic disease and/or metastatic disease
- ACEF’s classes at Johnson Family Cancer Center are small enough so you receive personal attention, which will help you gain greatest benefits
All the Information You Need to Get You to Practice Yoga
For additional information, contact us at info [at] amacf.org, or by phone at (616) 607-7360, or in person at the Absenger Cancer Education Foundation at 17212 Van Wagoner Road, Spring Lake, MI 49456.
Transportation assistance is available to those who qualify!
email: info [at] amacf.org
phone: (616) 607-7360
2016 Schedule Yoga Class Schedule
Mondays: 6:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 10:30 a.m.
Where are the Yoga Classes Held?
Johnson Family Cancer Center (JFCC)
1440 E Sherman Blvd
Muskegon, MI 49444.
Use the entrance facing Sherman Blvd.
Schedule subject to change without notice.
ACEF’s Yoga Classes are FREE for Breast Cancer Survivors!
The yoga classes are made possible FREE of charge with a grant from Susan G. Komen Michigan. Komen Michigan funds programs that support those in the fight to save lives.
About Karri, Your Instructor:
Karri Absenger, LPN, RYT is a passionate advocate of the Living Well in Breast Cancer Survivorship program. Karri’s expertise allows ACEF to integrate yoga with Western medical and psychosocial knowledge. If you are undergoing treatment for breast cancer or if you are a survivor, check with your doctor if you are healthy enough to take a yoga class. However, as a licensed nurse and registered yoga teacher, Karri is very aware of potential contraindications of yoga in cancer survivorship.
Why Should You Join Karri’s Classes?
*The American Cancer Society recommends cancer survivors get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. It does not matter whether you are a younger, 27-year-old breast cancer survivor or 76, Karri’s classes can play a significant role in your health. The combination of ACEF’s expertise in mind-body medicine and Karri’s nursing and teaching experience make the Living Well in Breast Cancer Survivorship yoga program one of the leading evidence-based yoga programs on the Lakeshore.
*Bower, J. E., Greendale, G., Crosswell, A. D., Garet, D., Sternlieb, B., Ganz, P. A., … Cole, S. W. (2014). Yoga reduces inflammatory signaling in fatigued breast cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 43, 20–29. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.01.019
*Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Porter, L. S., Keefe, F. J., Shaw, H., & Miller, J. M. (2007). Yoga for Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer: Results from a Pilot Study. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 33(3), 331–341. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2006.08.009
*Coughlin, S. S., Yoo, W., Whitehead, M. S., & Smith, S. A. (2015). Advancing breast cancer survivorship among African-American women. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 153(2), 253–261. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10549-015-3548-3
*Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Bennett, J. M., Andridge, R., Peng, J., Shapiro, C. L., Malarkey, W. B., … Glaser, R. (2014). Yoga’s Impact on Inflammation, Mood, and Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32(10), 1040–1049. http://doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2013.51.8860
*Niles, H., Mehta, D. H., Corrigan, A. A., Bhasin, M. K., & Denninger, J. W. (2014). Functional genomics in the study of mind-body therapies. The Ochsner Journal, 14(4), 681–695. http://www.ochsnerjournal.org/doi/full/10.1043/1524-5012-14.4.681
*Streeter, C. C., Jensen, J. E., Perlmutter, R. M., Cabral, H. J., Tian, H., Terhune, D. B., … Renshaw, P. F. (2007). Yoga Asana Sessions Increase Brain GABA Levels: A Pilot Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13(4), 419–426. http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2007.6338
*Yeruva, S. L., Green, D., Martin, C., & Taylor, T. R. (2016). Factors associated with intention to participate in a randomized yoga intervention among African American breast cancer survivors. In Collective Wisdom: The Future of Patient-Centered Care and Research (Vol. 34). Chicago, IL: J Clin Oncol. Retrieved from http://meetinglibrary.asco.org/content/171375-176
*Not everyone may get these results. Your results may be different. Research shows that the average person may improve her quality of life.