Investigators from Tianjin Medical University’s School of Nursing in Tianjin, China, conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of yoga on psychological health and quality of life (QoL) in women with breast cancer.

A systematic search was done using PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, and the Chinese Digital Journals Full-text Database. Analysts used randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effects of yoga as compared to a control group (treatment as usual or TAU), on psychological functioning and QoL in women with breast cancer.

Six studies involving 382 patients were included for review. The meta-analysis revealed that yoga improves quality of life for women with breast cancer, yielding a statistically significant effect (p=0.03, standard mean difference = 0.27, 95% confidence interval [0.02, 0.52]).

Although the effects of yoga on psychological function outcomes, such as anxiety, depression, distress and sleep, were in the expected direction, they were not statistically significant (p>0.05). There was no significant difference on fatigue (p>0.05).

Investigators conclude that this meta-analysis showed that yoga was mildly effective for improving Quality of Life for women with breast cancer, but that the findings were based on a small body of evidence in which methodological quality was questionable. They suggest that more well-designed RCTs with large sample sizes are needed to clarify the utility of yoga practice for this population.

Citation:  Zhang J, Yang KH, Tian JH, Wang CM. Effects of yoga on psychologic function and quality of life in women with breast cancer: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2012 Nov;18(11):pp. 994-1002. Epub 2012 Aug 21.