M. D. Anderson announces collaboration with India's largest yoga research institution

April 28, 2005

HOUSTON - The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (Research Foundation), Bangalore, India, today announced a research collaboration to scientifically validate the age-old belief that mind-body interventions have a beneficial impact on the health of cancer patients.

The effort builds on a cooperative, cross-cultural relationship between researchers, representing a shared mission to increase integration of yoga-based therapies into cancer treatment regimens to enhance quality of life.

Representatives of both institutions met today at M. D. Anderson, advancing a framework for future academic and clinical collaborations that will involve research, physician education and training, and personnel exchanges. In their future research, they plan to utilize brain-imaging technology in an effort to pinpoint precisely where changes take place in the brain and to confirm previous research that showed certain brain regions were affected by meditation-based programs.

"Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana has an outstanding history of clinical and research-based discoveries related to the effects of yoga on both healthy people and those suffering from cancer," says Thomas Brown, M.D., vice president for Extramural Programs at M. D. Anderson. "By sharing our expertise in multidisciplinary cancer care and translational research, together we can advance scientific understanding of how the mind works in concert with the body to benefit cancer patients around the world."

Under the leadership of Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., director of the Integrative Medicine Program and associate professor in the Departments of Behavioral Science and Palliative Care & Rehabilitation Medicine at M. D. Anderson, researchers from both institutions are currently studying the effects of Indian-based yoga on breast cancer patients undergoing radiation treatments. They are exploring whether participating in a yoga program diminishes patients' fatigue and sleep disturbances, while improving overall quality of life, mental health, stress hormone levels, and aspects of immune function.

The randomized controlled trial is monitoring patients' physiological responses to yoga as determined from blood and saliva samples, lung function tests and goniometric (joint motion) measurements. A follow-up study that will be funded by the National Cancer Institute in July 2005 will measure the benefits of yoga on similar outcomes including more objective measures of sleep quality as measured by actigraphy (sleep restfulness) and in a sleep laboratory compared to patients participating in an educational support group that includes learning relaxation skills.

"The ancient Eastern practice of regulated breathing, gentle movement and meditation has long been ascribed anecdotal healing benefits," says H. R. Nagendra, Ph.D., vice chancellor of the Swami Vivekanada Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana. "We are pleased to partner with M. D. Anderson to answer key cancer questions and expand yoga research to produce more tangible results that the scientific community would view as solid medical evidence of the benefits of these types of mind-body interventions."

M. D. Anderson recognizes the growing body of research indicating that relaxation-based interventions can contribute to the well being of patients with cancer. Through the Integrative Medicine Program, clinical delivery offers complementary therapies through Place . . . of wellness that are used in concert with mainstream care to manage symptoms, relieve stress, and enhance quality of life. Integrative Medicine Program faculty also conduct research into the biological and behavioral effects of mind/body-based interventions; the anti-cancer potential of natural compounds; and acupuncture to treat common cancer treatment-related side effects. Research that Cohen published last year in the journal Cancer found that cancer patients participating in a Tibetan yoga program had lower levels of sleep disturbances than did the patients in the control group. Improving sleep quality in a cancer population may be particularly salient as sleep disturbances are common problems for patients with cancer.

"From meditation to music therapy, the key to the success of mind-body interventions is to ensure they are easily incorporated into conventional treatments. As a comprehensive cancer center, we don't just treat cancer, we treat people who have cancer," says Cohen. "It is incumbent upon us to explore the potential benefit of therapies that have some evidence of efficacy, even non-conventional therapies such as yoga."

About The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

M. D. Anderson, a nonprofit institution founded in 1941, has established an international reputation as one of the world's preeminent centers for cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. A multidisciplinary approach, and dedication to translational research, education and prevention are hallmarks of M. D. Anderson, which also holds the distinction of being designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as one of the first three Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States. It has been ranked the number one cancer center in the United States in four of the past five years by U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Hospitals."

M. D. Anderson has provided care for more than 600,000 cancer patients since 1944 and 70,000 in the last year alone. Its faculty currently hold more NCI research grants and grant dollars than any other academic center in the United States. In 2003, nearly 1,000 new patients from outside the United States came to M. D. Anderson for care. www.mdanderson.org

About Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana

The Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana was established to examine the efficacy of yoga practices and to develop yoga courses to ease the stresses of modern society using a scientifically-based research approach. The largest yoga therapy research Health Home Arogyadhama (with 163 beds) in India, the foundation has published 45 research papers on yoga therapy and other applications of yoga in national and international research journals and has trained nearly 3,500 yoga teachers to introduce yoga in schools in 8 Indian states. Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana has reached 20 countries with collaborative research projects in the United Kingdom and the United States.

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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