Qigong boosts cancer patients' survival chances by factor of 18
Cancer patients can improve their prospects by doing an hour of qigong exercises every morning, write Chinese researchers from Guilin Medical University in Medicine. In the group of patients that the Chinese studied, practising qigong increased their survival chances by a factor of 18.
The Chinese studied 122 patients with cancer in the respiratory system for a period of 10 years. Most had lung cancer, but some also had nasopharyngeal cancer. Out of the group 76 patients chose voluntarily to do an hour of qigong almost every morning; the other 46 could not be persuaded.
Qigong consists of gentle movement with static postures in which breathing exercises are done. The participants in the qigong groups practised on average 279 times a year.
Qigong increased the survival chances of the cancer patients. After ten years, of the patients who had not done qigong [Non-MBE], 2.2 percent were still alive. Of the patients who had done qigong [MBE], 39.5 percent were still alive after 10 years. So qigong increased the 10-year survival chance of this group by a factor of 18.
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The breathing of the survivors in the qigong group changed. The participants were able to suspend their breath for longer after exhaling. In technical terms, their end-tidal breath holding time increased gradually over the 10-year period from 17.5 to 21.3 seconds.
At the same time, the number of times per minute that the survivors in the qigong group inhaled and exhaled went down from 24.2 to 18.6.
In the 10-year period the researchers observed that the people in the qigong group gradually started to exhale a little more carbon dioxide and a little less oxygen. The Chinese believe that this explains how qigong increases the survival chances of these cancer patients: qigong inhibits cancer by making more oxygen available to the body's tissues.
"Oxygen-carbon dioxide homeostasis via normal breathing is crucial for health while disturbance of the homeostasis may cause many disorders, especially cancers," the Chinese speculate.
"Kunz and Ibrahim [Mol Cancer. 2003 Apr 17;2:23.] have proposed that tissue hypoxia may serve as a central factor for carcinogenesis, invasion, aggressiveness, and metastasis. Distant metastases in human soft tissue sarcoma can be predicted by tumor oxygenation. [Cancer Res. 1996 Mar 1;56(5):941-3.] Generally, the difficulty in one's breathing is parallel to the cancer invasion."
"Moreover, hypoxia can compromise the function of macrophages, enzymes and other cytokines and lymphocytes of the immune system. [Oncol Res. 1997;9(6-7):383-90.]"
"In addition, hypoxic conditions modulate biological responses including activation of signaling pathways that regulate proliferation, angiogenesis, and death. [Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1986 Aug;12(8):1279-82.] [Mol Cell Biol. 1998 May;18(5):2845-54.]"
"An individualized exercise program such as morning breathing exercises may be essential in cancer management," the researchers wrote. "Collectively, morning breathing exercises might be beneficial for long-term survival of lung cancer patients and nasopharyngeal cancer patients."
"Given the fact that each and every day, thousands of people are diagnosed with cancers, morning breathing exercises may offer a cost-effective approach to people living with cancer."
Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Jan;96(2):e5838.
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