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

Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Jan;96(2):e5838. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000005838.


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.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Breath Holding
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Survival Rate