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Qigong Can Help Cancer Survivors Fight Fatigue

An elderly Chinese man practices early morning meditation in a Beijing park July 30.
Men who survive prostate cancer - the second-most frequently diagnosed cancer in men - often suffer from severe fatigue, and the exhaustion may continue for months or years after treatment. A trial study indicates that practicing an ancient Chinese mind-body exercise can help alleviate fatigue.

Qigong incorporates gentle movements, breathing techniques and meditation. Cancer researchers Anita Kinney and Rebecca Campo recruited 40 prostate cancer survivors for a three-month trial to assess its potential. The men, 72 years old on average, were split into two groups. One group took Qigong classes, the other did stretching exercises.

Attendance was higher in the Qigong classes, and in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, Kinney reports those participants "reported significant declines in how much fatigue or distress they experienced," compared to the men in the stretching class.

Campo notes that the practice may be an effective way for older prostate cancer survivors to manage fatigue without drugs, but that larger and more diverse trials are needed to confirm that benefit.