Dr Jimmy Kwok

    #Yogi #Dr Passionate about #YogaTherapy for those affected by Cancer                      Proudly supporting @maggiescentres UK                                Twitter: @Dryoga Website:www.dryoga.co.uk      

Can Yoga prevent cancer development by reduction in DNA damage?

I asked myself this question after reading through a peer reviewed paper titled “Comparison of lymphocyte apoptotic index and qualitative DNA damage in yoga practitioners and breast cancer patients: A pilot study.” which was published in Jan 2013 by an Indian research group in India.  The pilot experiment was small, consisting of only 27 people.  There are three groups tested - (1) Carcinoma breast patients in stage II or III undergoing radiation therapy after completing three cycles of chemotherapy; (2) Senior yoga practitioners who were practicing asanas, pranayama and meditation daily for more than 10 years; and (3) Normal healthy volunteers with no experience of yoga. Peripheral blood lymphocytes were isolated and qualitative DNA damage was measured using comet assays.

The initial findings did suggest that group 2 cohorts with senior yoga practitioners did have a smaller % of DNA damage relative to healthy & cancer patients.  However, as chemotherapy increases DNA damage in healthy cells, the data doesn’t mean much.  This is a very poorly designed experiment.  Also, there are other downstream markets of apoptosis including caspase 3/7 assays which could give a better indication of DNA-damage induced cell death.  Furthermore, it would be interesting to look at the breast carcinoma tissues for specific DNA damage rather than a generic blood DNA assay could also yield better insight.

Despite the shortcomings of the experiment and clinical design of this research, what caught my attention is the notion that prevention is better than cure, and it is worthwhile to pursue further research in comparing DNA damage levels between yoga practitioners and non-yoga practitioners with a similar age range & geography, both sets with no known hereditary cancer in the family and monitor at regular time intervals throughout their life time and following up on their incidence of specific cancer incidence rates.  Similarly, it would be interesting to conduct further in vitro studies to determine whether yoga can contribute to lower DNA damage in healthy cells based on this preliminary finding, and how?  It is through the classical BRAC1/2 genetic pathways or others?  So far, the only known physiological effect backed up by clinical study is that yoga can reduce cortisol level, which is related to stress and cancer prognosis outcome.  Hence, unravelling other effect on yoga on human biochemical or physiological pathway would help better articulate how the ancient yoga practice can confer health benefits using modern day medical terminologies and studies.


Posted 156 weeks ago

About the Author

Dr Jimmy kwok, PhD Jimmy is currently working for a private hospital group based in Harley Street, London UK as the Head of Oncology Service Line. In his role, he is responsible for the development and management of cancer services across the network of hospitals. Jimmy gained his MA in Natural Sciences from Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge and his doctorate degree in Clinical Oncology (Breast Cancer) at Imperial College, London. Jimmy has also interned at Harvard Medical School, Boston USA and the oncology Department at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London. He has practiced Ashtanga yoga for over a decade and has qualified by training at the Ashtanga Institute, Mysore located in India. He is a registered yoga teacher RYT200 with Yoga Alliance UK. He is also a keen advocate of the use of yoga for cancer patients and works closely with Maggie's Cancer Centers to promote its use in recovering cancer patients.

Professional Publications

1. FOXM1 confers acquired cisplatin resistance in breast cancer cells.  Mol Cancer Res; 8(1) January 2010.  Jimmy M-M. Kwok, Barrie Peck, Lara J Monteiro, Helma D.C. Schwenen, Julie Millour, R.Charles Coombes, Stephen S. Myatt, EW-F, Lam.

2. Thiostrepton selectively targets breast cancer cells through inhibition of forkhead box M1 expression.   Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Jul;7(7):2022-32.  Jimmy M-M. Kwok.  SS, Myatt. CM, Marson RC, Coombes.  D, Constantinidou. EW-F, Lam.

3. Gefitinib (Iressa) represses FOXM1 expression via FOXO3a in breast cancer. 2009 Mar;8(3):582-91. Epub 2009 Mar 10.  McGovern UB, Francis RE, Peck B, Guest SK, Wang J, Myatt SS, Krol J, Jimmy M-M. Kwok , Polychronis A, Coombes RC, Lam EW.

4. Isolation and functional assessment of common, polymorphic variants of the B-MYB proto-oncogene associated with a reduced cancer risk.  Oncogene. 2008 May 1;27(20):2929-33.  R, Schwab. R, Bussolari. O, Chayka. D, Corvetta. G, Santilli. Jimmy M-M. Kwok. GF, Amorotti. GP, Tonini. L, Iacoviello. R, Bertorelle. C, Menin. M, Hubank . B, Calabretta. A, Sala.

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