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Published online: 2024-01-19

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The impact of yoga practice on cortisol levels in breast cancer patients—a comprehensive review

Aleksandra W. Bratborska1, Igor Piotrowski2

Abstract

Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in women worldwide, often accompanied by significant psychological distress and hormonal imbalances, including elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol, as a crucial hormone secreted in response to physical and psychological stress, plays an important role in regulation of numerous human body systems. A vast number of studies showed that chronic stress and prolonged hypersecretion of cortisol promote carcinogenesis and tumor growth. Because of the known relaxing effects of yoga and its ability to lower cortisol levels, complementary therapies including integrated yoga programs have gained attention due to their potential to mitigate the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment. To this day, multiple studies to evaluate the positive impact of yoga on lowering cortisol levels in breast cancer patients have been carried out. This review aims to shed light on how cortisol level impacts cancer development and progression as well as summarize the beneficial effect of yoga on cortisol levels in breast cancer patients and its potential as an adjunctive therapy.

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