Yoga and Cancer

Yoga is a branch of the 5000-year-old traditional Indian practice of medicine. It basically means unison of the mind, body and spirit in a perfect state of balance which helps one connect to their inner-self.

The inner-self is free from fear and greed, unmoved by joys or sorrow. This encourages stillness, calmness, deep breathing and positive thinking which are proven to be important elements for healthy living.

Yoga has created ripples through the centuries with tales of its miraculous healings. But it’s the 19th century, when yoga began to climb atop the global chartbuster. From being a trending practice for weight loss to the being the key of good health, yoga has re-emerged as the modern-day panacea!

Also know: Saliva – A Very Important Secretion

Yoga and Cancer: A complementary cancer therapy

Yoga is not a cure for cancer.

But yoga plays a crucial role in winning the fight.

Researchers shared evidence of its efficacy in managing high blood pressure, heart health, metabolism, bone health, pain management and other physiological disorders. Yoga is a proven tool for managing stress, depression, panic and anxiety. Regular practice of yoga boosts sleep, appetite and overall well-being.

This makes yoga a very helpful therapy in coping with cancer during and after treatment.

Here are some of the proven benefits of yoga that aids the cancer fighters and survivors:

1. Combats stress

Cancer is exhausting, not only physically but also emotionally and mentally! Many cancer patients suffer from bouts of anxiety, stress and depression caused by the trauma of facing a life-threatening disease.

Stress can only worsen the condition by the damage it does to the body!

Hence, stress management has emerged as a bigger challenge in cancer patients. Several studies have validated the role of yoga in battling stress in cancer patients. One study found that daily yoga practicing can reduce “mood disturbances” by about 65%.

Managing cancer stress with yoga improves appetite, sleep and quality of life.

2. Fights fatigue

Cancer treatments are exhausting physically.

Patients often complain of fatigue and weakness while undergoing cancer treatment. Research shows that Yoga can help in alleviating fatigue in cancer patients. A study published in the NCBI quoted that yoga interventions may be beneficial for reducing cancer-related fatigue!

Another study reported 22 – 37 % improvement in cancer related fatigue achieved through daily practice of yoga. This resulted in better sleep quality and day time functioning.

3. Improve physical functioning

Yoga is known to improve flexibility and mobility.

Cancer as well as cancer treatments can affect the ability to move. Long durations of hospitalization and bed rest can make the body stiff and sore, making it difficult for patients to move.

Practising gentle forms of yoga under the guidance of a professional trainer or instructor can help in restoring mobility and agility. Yoga is also a proven pain reliever. A review of several studies found that yoga can improve functional well-being in both cancer patients and survivors.

4. Enhances sleep

Sleeplessness and restlessness are common complaints in cancer patients.

Cancer can cause sleeplessness and sleeplessness hinders healing. Thus, it is a vicious cycle which needs to be broken for the treatment to work. Yoga is well-known for curing insomnia.

Several studies and researchers have attributed its calming properties to boost quality and quantity of sleep. Regular yoga practice improves sleep patterns by reducing disruptions.

5. Lowers risk of recurrence

Yoga helps in lowering the risk of recurrence by maintaining a lean body. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for cancer recurrence. Regular practice of yoga ensures lower risk of recurrence.

Yoga also fights off the ill-effects of stress. It enhances mood, sparks positivity and helps people in coping with cancer post treatment. Yoga is effective in improving the quality of life post treatment.

By regulating diet, sleep, mood and lifestyle yoga reduces the risk of cancer recurrence.

Yoga postures that helps fight cancer

Our research scientist Dr. Ulhas Ganu often shares his insights on several yoga postures that brings relief to cancer patients.

In his blogs, he elaborated the benefits of Shanmukhi Mudra in reducing stress,
Pranamudra in enhancing immunity, Parvatasana in improving mobility, Ganesh Mudra for muscular strengthening, and Pranayama for relieving anxiety and depression.

There are several yoga techniques designed to benefit the body in different ways. Consult with your doctor and a professional yoga instructor before starting yoga as your daily ritual. When done wrong it can cause pain and other problems. Hence, expert guidance is necessary.

Cations for yoga in cancer

  • Do not practice yoga alone at home unless you are a trained practitioner.
  • Enroll in professional yoga training programs designed for cancer patients.
  • Consult your oncologist before enrolling.
  • Discuss your medical problems with your instructor.
  • Stop if any posture causes pain.
  • Go easy with the postures.
  • Drink plenty of water after every class.

5 Proven Cancer Causing

You are what you eat!

Fresh foods flourishing with nutrients when eaten in the right way ensures that you lead a healthy, disease-free life. But if your plate is filled with foods that do not come from an organic source and is impregnated with toxins, then every morsel of that food can be building a bridge for diseases to come sliding.

While many foods can be categorized under the column of ‘harmful’ but not all are carcinogenic.

Though every now and then the news flash with some breakthrough research claiming the possible carcinogenic property of famous foods, but not all gets validated. For any food or drink to be labeled carcinogenic, there must be strong evidence to justify the association.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies carcinogens. They check how likely they are to cause cancer, with the scale divided into five groups: known, probable, possible, unclassifiable and probably not carcinogenic.

Here are 5 common foods that come under the category of known carcinogens:


Alcohol metabolism produces acetaldehyde. It’s a chemical compound that may cause damage to DNA. This might lead to cancer. Research verifies the association of alcohol to an increased risk of developing head and neck, esophagealliverbreast and colorectal cancer.

That’s why experts say its best to abstain from alcohol to avoid the risk. However, the second-best option is to limit the alcohol consumption to not more than two servings per day for men and one serving per day for women.

Processed Meat

There is enough evidence to label processed meat as a carcinogenic food. Meat preserved by curing, salting or smoking, or with chemical preservatives can increase the risk of cancer. It’s the nitrate in these processed meats that causes the damage.

You must check for the nitrite content while buying Bacon, sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni, prosciutto, beef jerky and salami. Research says that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 per cent.

Red meat

Red meat like beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat are linked to increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. Also, the way you cook the meat can raise the risk of cancer.

Meats cooked at high temperatures, like barbequed, contain chemicals that may cause changes in DNA. This may lead to cancer. Eating a lot of over-cooked meat is linked to an increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

Soda pop

Soda pop is another popular food that has been linked to causing cancer. Loaded with sugar, food chemicals, and colorings, soda pop acidifies the body. It literally feeds cancer cells making them grow aggressively.

The soda pop contains the chemicals 4-methylimidazole (4-MI). This chemical has been specifically linked to causing cancer.


Another very popular food that has been under the radar of cancer-causing food is the ‘sweet sugar’. Though it is not directly linked to cancer because it does not contain any such chemical that can be labeled as carcinogenic, but sugar is the culprit of obesity which is a proven risk for cancer.

Obesity has been linked to 13 types of cancer. Cutting added sugar, specifically refined sugar, is one way to reducing the risks for cancer. Eating sweet fruits and vegetables are fine. Even indulging in sweet treats once in a while is fine, but the key here is moderation.

Following a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds is the key to living in a healthy body. Limiting ultra-processed foods, such as packed baked foods, snacks, fizzy drinks, sugary cereals, ready-to-eat meals is another way of limiting the cancer risk.


Cancer can be caused by several factors. Some knowns and some unknowns. A few uncontrollable and some preventable. Whatever, be the cause, food may play a multi-role. It can be causative, preventive, supportive as well as curative in cancer, depending on what you choose to eat!

Diet and Cancer

Cancer is a genetic disease caused by a mutation in the DNA. This mutation can be triggered by a range of factors; genetic inheritance, environmental factors, lifestyle choices and food preferences being the major contributors.

Diet plays the role of a double sword in cancer. It can feed cancer or kill cancer. Several foods are labeled as carcinogens (cancer causing substances) and several are hailed for having cancer-fighting properties.

Choosing proper dietary nutrition is very crucial not only for prevention of cancer but it is also important for management and treatment of cancer.

Here are a few things about diet and cancer that you must know.

Why diet matters so much?

We are what we eat!

Every cell of the body is made from the nutrients that we derive through food.

So, food plays a very important role in keeping us healthy and hale.

While the right food choices nourish our body, the wrong ones can wreak havoc. Faulty eating is the main reason for obesity, diabetes, and all kinds of gastro-intestinal troubles. Diet is also one of the major causatives of cancer.

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally. And research suggests that about 30-50% of cancer deaths can be prevented just by making the right food choices. There is a growing body of evidence claiming that dietary habits can increase or decrease cancer risk.

Food can lower the cancer risk by:

  • regulating hormones
  • slowing cancer cell growth
  • preventing inflammation
  • curbing damage from free radicals

Food that flames your cancer risk

Scientists suspect that diet may play an elemental role in turning normal cells cancerous. It is the high consumption of certain food items cooked in certain ways that’s linked to increased cancer risk.

However, nutrition is a complex concept. It is not only what you eat, but how you produce, store, cook and eat that matters. Food produced in a healthy environment, stored in the right way (without processing), cooked in less oil and heat, and eaten in a peaceful calm manner is optimal for the body.

Here is a list of foods that researchers have marked as probable cancer causing!

  1. Sugar and Refined Carbs
    There are several studies probing on the association between sugar and cancer. Several studies found that a diet high in refined carbs, which causes high blood glucose and insulin increases the risk of colon cancer by 50%.
  2. Red meat and Processed Meat
    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has cited processed meat as a carcinogen. A large review of studies found that consumption of red meat or processed meat can increase colorectal cancer risk by 20-50%. Also, another study suggested regular consumption of red meat or processed meat is found to increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
  3. Dairy Products
    Clinical studies claim that high consumption of dairy products can increase the risk of prostate cancer. Increased intake of dairy products like butter, cheese, or sweet desserts contributes to obesity which is a known cancer risk.
  4. Overcooked Food
    Research shows that certain foods when cooked at high temperatures, (grilling, frying, sautéing, barbequing) can produce harmful compounds in the body. Excess accumulation of these compounds can lead to inflammation which may play a role in the development of cancer. Foods like processed red meat, cheese, butter, oils and nuts should never be overcooked.

Foods that help cope with cancer

Several studies on the impact of diet in preventing and coping with cancer have revealed cancer-fighting properties in certain foods. Scientists revealed that eating an optimal healthy diet may reduce the cancer risk by 70%.

  1. Foods rich in anti-oxidants
    Any food rich in anti-oxidant is good for fighting and preventing cancer. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and repairs the damages done by them. Anti-oxidants also boost immunity, energy, and overall well-being which is crucial while undergoing cancer treatment.
  2. Vegetables and Fruits
    Many vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that help in fighting cancer. Fruits and vegetables can play a preventive as well as a curative role in managing cancer.
    Studies suggest that a person’s daily diet must include at least two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables. Eating high amounts of fruit may lower the risk of stomach and lung cancer.
    Different vegetables too can lower the risk of lung, mouth, pharynx, larynx, stomach, and oesophageal cancer. Moringa, a superfood, is a proven anti-cancer food that is now studied in preparation for anti-cancer drugs.
  3. Seeds and Spices
    Several seeds and spices are also said to help fight cancer. Cinnamon has anti-cancer properties. Curcumin a compound found in turmeric is now used to treat cancer. Flaxseeds too have cancer-preventive properties; it is said to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
  4. Beans and Legumes
    Beans and legumes show protective properties against cancer. A study in 3500 people concluded that regular consumption of beans and legumes can lower the risk of certain types of cancer by 50%.
  5. Water and juice
    Drink lots of water and fluids throughout the day. It helps flush out toxins from the body, improves hydration and soothes symptoms caused by cancer. Drinking ample liquids also keeps the body energized and fresh.

Apart from these nuts, fish, garlic, olive oil and healthy eating habits are considered important for fighting cancer. It is not one single food but the overall diet that makes the big difference. Also, it is always best to extract the nutrients directly from foods rather than taking supplements.

Fruits and vegetables you must add to your diet

Vegetables like carrots, Brussels sprouts, and squash contain carotenoids may reduce the risk of lung, mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, may help protect against stomach and esophageal cancer.

Oranges, berries, peas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens and other foods high in vitamin C may help prevent esophageal cancer. Tomatoes, guava, and watermelon contain lycopene such as tomatoes which may lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Food, Blood Sugar and Cancer

Certain foods are identified to spike up the blood sugar levels. And high blood sugar is associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer including cancers of the stomach, breast and colorectal.

People with high blood sugar have 22% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Insulin stimulates the growth of cancerous cells and speeds up its spread. High blood glucose also leads to inflammation which can result in genetic mutations causing cancer.

Food, Obesity and Cancer

One of the biggest modern-day disaster is obesity. More people are dying of overeating than malnourishment. Obesity opens the door to several chronic conditions including stress, depression, diabetes, arthritis, cancer etc.

After smoking and drinking, obesity is the third biggest risk factor for cancer. Obesity is linked to 13 different types of cancer, including cancers of the oesophagus, colon, pancreas, breast and kidney.

Obesity impacts cancer risk in three key ways:

  • Excess body fat can lead to insulin resistance.
  • Obesity can cause chronic inflammation.
  • Fat cells contribute to increased estrogen levels.

Diet tips to curb cancer risks

  1. Do not cook oils on high heat.
  2. Opt for healthier cooking methods like baking, boiling, or steaming.
  3. Store oils in a cool dark place in airtight containers.
  4. Avoid foods that turned moldy. It might contain aflatoxin, a strong carcinogen.
  5. Avoid processed, fried, fast foods.
  6. Prefer boiled foods over raw or overcooked foods.
  7. Flavor your food with immune-boosting herbs and spices.

Diet and Cancer: Which is the best Cancer diet?

There are several fad diets that trend for some time and then fizz out. Alkaline diet, Ketogenic diet, vegetarian diet, vegan diet, Palaeolithic diet are some names that are linked to cancer prevention.

It is shown in several studies that plant-based diet may lower the risk of cancer, but again, it is the overall healthy eating practice that matters. Eating a plant-based diet and binging on fried and salts foods won’t help!

There is no food that can assure the prevention of cancer, neither there is enough evidence to cite one as a certain causative. To date, observational studies have linked some foods to increase cancer risks and some to lower cancer risks. But further studies and research is needed to better understand the role of food choices in cancer.

However, it’s the simple practice of eating healthy foods in a regulated manner that works best. Food choice should be a personal decision. However, abstaining or controlling foods that cause damage while adding the healthy alternatives is the best way to fight cancer.