In cancer patients, quality of life (QOL) of is often reduced because of the side effects of anticancer treatments. Medical Qigong is the integration of gentle exercise, relaxation meditation, and breathing exercise. The practice of Qigong has the basis of Chinese medicine theory.
Medical Qigong has been suggested as a useful intervention for promoting quality of life, relieving symptoms and side effects, and improving longevity of cancer patients. In a study done at the University of Sydney in Australia, researchers evaluated the feasibility and effects of Medical Qigong on outcomes among cancer patients (Oh et al., 2008).
A total of 30 patients with cancers were involved in the study (Oh et al., 2008). The intervention group practiced Qigong for 8 weeks in addition to the regular medical care. The progress of disease was measured by the inflammatory biomarker c-reactive protein (CRP).
The study found that the Qigong intervention group had better quality of life (QOL) (Oh et al., 2008). In the Qigong group, the symptoms of side effects from cancer treatment and the levels of the inflammatory biomarker CRP were also reduced, compared with the control group.
In another study of 162 patients with different cancers, researchers observed that the Qigong group had remarkable improvement in the aspects of overall QOL, fatigue, and mood disturbance, compared with the control group (Oh et al., 2010). The levels of the inflammatory biomarker CRP were also decreased.
These studies suggest that Medical Qigong may help promote the quality of life of cancer patients, improve mood conditions, and decrease some side-effects of cancer therapy. The exercise can also lower the levels of inflammation, which is beneficial in many aspects. Further investigations with larger scale of clinical trials and biomedical studies are needed to confirm such effects and to understand the mechanisms of the benefits of Qigong.
Oh, B., Butow, P., et al. (2008) Medical Qigong for cancer patients: pilot study of impact on quality of life, side effects of treatment and inflammation. Am J Chin Med 36, 459-472.
Oh, B., Butow, P., et al. (2010) Impact of medical Qigong on quality of life, fatigue, mood and inflammation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Oncol 21, 608-614.