Morning breathing exercises prolong lifespan by improving hyperventilation in people living with respiratory cancer

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Disturbance of oxygen–carbon dioxide homeostasis has an impact on cancer. Little is known about the effect of breath training on cancer patients. Here we report our 10-year experience with morning breathing exercises (MBE) in peer-support programs for cancer survivors.

We performed a cohort study to investigate long-term surviving patients with lung cancer (LC) and nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) who practiced MBE on a daily basis. End-tidal breath holding time (ETBHT) after MBE was measured to reflect improvement in alveolar O2 pressure and alveolar CO2 pressure capacity.

Patients (female, 57) with a diagnosis of LC (90 patients) and NPC (32 patients) were included. Seventy-six of them were MBE trainees. Average survival years were higher in MBE trainees (9.8 ± 9.5) than nontrainees (3.3 ± 2.8). The 5-year survival rate was 56.6% for MBE trainees and 19.6% for nontrainees (RR = 5.371, 95% CI = 2.271–12.636, P < 0.001). Survival probability of the trainees further increased 17.9-fold for the 10-year survival rate. Compared with the nontrainees, the MBE trainees shows no significant differences in ETBHT (baseline, P = 0.795; 1–2 years, P = 0.301; 3–4 years, P = 0.059) at baseline and within the first 4 years. From the 5th year onwards, significant improvements were observed in ETBHT, aCO2%, PaCO2, and PaO2 (P = 0.028). In total, 18 trainees (40.9%) and 20 nontrainees (74.1%) developed new metastasis (RR = 0.315, 95% CI = 0.108–0.919, P = 0.031).

MBE might benefit for the long-term survival in patients with LC and NPC due to improvement in hyperventilation.

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