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August 14, 2009

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Qigong can help cancer patients live longer: study

THE meditative practice of qigong can help cancer patients live longer and give them a better quality of life, Chinese and American researchers said after releasing the results of a joint study in Shanghai yesterday.

With funding from the United States-based National Cancer Institute, experts from University of Illinois and Shanghai University of Sport studied 80 members of Shanghai Cancer Rehabilitation Club.

The researchers found those who regularly practice qigong are in better physical and mental health and have a lower rate of cancer reoccurrence than those who don't. They did not provide numbers.

The 80 people, who have all survived cancer for more than 10 years, were divided into two groups of 40. One group was composed of qigong practitioners while the other group's members did not do qigong. The two groups were of similar ages and had survived cancer for similar lengths of time.

Qigong uses slow movements and controlled breathing to promote the circulation of qi, or energy, inside the body to improve a practitioner's overall health.

Long-term effects

In this phase-one study, the qigong practitioners all did Guolin Qigong, which was invented in the 1950s by Guo Lin, who also had cancer. Many domestic cancer associations have since encouraged patients to practice this form of qigong.

According to researcher Wang Changwei from Shanghai University of Sport, the study includes three phases on the benefits of qigong to cancer patients.

"We just started the second phase - which will cover 2,000 cancer patients - to study the long-term effects of practicing qigong and why people keep doing it regularly," she said. "Many local cancer patients have practiced qigong for years and spend several hours doing it every day. We are curious about why they are so keen to do it."

The third phase will study qigong's effects on patients with lung cancer, the top cancer killer among Chinese.

"Some people, especially in Western countries, may consider qigong as mysterious. Our research is to testify to its beneficial effects through a scientific study based on questionnaires, health checks and other tests," Wang said.


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