Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 267–277 | Cite as

Randomized controlled pilot trial of yoga in overweight and obese breast cancer survivors: effects on quality of life and anthropometric measures

  • Alyson J. LittmanEmail author
  • Lisa Cadmus Bertram
  • Rachel Ceballos
  • Cornelia M. Ulrich
  • Jaya Ramaprasad
  • Bonnie McGregor
  • Anne McTiernan
Original Article



To obtain estimates of time to recruit the study sample, retention, facility-based class attendance and home practice for a study of yoga in breast cancer survivors, and its efficacy on fatigue, quality of life (QOL), and weight change.


Sixty-three post-treatment stages 0–III borderline overweight and obese (body mass index ≥24 kg/m2) breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to a 6-month, facility- and home-based viniyoga intervention (n = 32) or a waitlist control group (n = 31). The yoga goal was five practices per week. Primary outcome measures were changes in QOL, fatigue, and weight from baseline to 6 months. Secondary outcomes included changes in waist and hip circumference.


It took 12 months to complete recruitment. Participants attended a mean of 19.6 classes and practiced at home a mean of 55.8 times during the 6-month period. At follow-up, 90% of participants completed questionnaires and 87% completed anthropometric measurements. QOL and fatigue improved to a greater extent among women in the yoga group relative to women in the control group, although no differences were statistically significant. Waist circumference decreased 3.1 cm (95% CI, −5.7 and −0.4) more among women in the yoga compared with the control group, with no difference in weight change.


This study provides important information regarding recruitment, retention, and practice levels achieved during a 6-month, intensive yoga intervention in overweight and obese breast cancer survivors. Yoga may help decrease waist circumference and improve quality of life; future studies are needed to confirm these results.


Yoga Breast cancer Quality of life Weight 



This material is based upon work supported in part by the Office of Research and Development Cooperative Studies Program, Department of Veterans Affairs and the Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics in Cancer (NCI 1U54 CA116847). The contents do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the US Government. We gratefully acknowledge the study participants; Laura Yon Brooks and Christy Fisher, for assistance designing the yoga protocol and teaching classes; Ann Enomoto, Lisa Yeager, and Linda Heuertz, for teaching classes.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyson J. Littman
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lisa Cadmus Bertram
    • 3
  • Rachel Ceballos
    • 4
  • Cornelia M. Ulrich
    • 5
  • Jaya Ramaprasad
    • 6
  • Bonnie McGregor
    • 4
  • Anne McTiernan
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center (ERIC), Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care SystemSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Moores University of San Diego Cancer CenterSan DiegoUSA
  4. 4.Division of Public Health SciencesFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA
  5. 5.National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)HeidelbergGermany
  6. 6.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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