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Qi Gong and Cancer
A Review of Research in China on Effects of Qi Gong on (a) Cancer, (b) Side-Effects of Treatment, and (c) Biomarkers Related to Cancer Prevention
A. Effect of Qi Gong on Immune System

A-1. Effect on Non-specific Cellular Immunity
The Chongqing Medical Institute conducted studies on the effects of Qi Gong on blood. Results generally show that Qi Gong increases white blood cell count and phagocytic power. For example:

Qi Gong exercises were shown to elevate the phagocytic rate in blood of cancer patients from 32.00 +/- 8.2% to 26.05 +/- 8.4% 1
Lymphocyte count was found to be enhanced with Qi Gong exercises 2.
In a study of 80 cancer patients randomized into Qi Gong , chemotherapy, and Qi Gong plus chemotherapy groups, white blood cell count of Qi Gong group members increased significantly after Qi Gong exercise (P 0.01), increased moderately in Qi Gong plus chemotherapy group members (P 0.05), and declined dramatically in chemotherapy group (P 0.01). The combination of Qi Gong and chemotherapy could mitigate the decrease of white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy.3
Natural killer cells of peripheral blood of 74 cancer patients improved to normal level after Qi Gong exercises were practiced over a long period of time.4

A-2. Effect on Specific Cellular Immunity
Several studies have shown positive results of Qi Gong on specific cellular immunity:

After 3 months of Qi Gong exercise, the EA rosette reading of 36 cancer patients increased from 24.76% (below normal) to 29.66% (within normal range). At the same time, leukocyte inhibition readings and adherence tests declined from 72.57% to 51.16% (normal range).5
Qi Gong exercise was shown to improve lymphocyte transformation rates.6
Exercises targeting the Genuine Qi Meridian led to increased lymphocyte transformation rates and improved lymphocyte percentage, E-rosette and ANAE readings.7
Based on results of a study on effects of the Genuine Qi Meridian on cellular immune function, it was concluded that early stage intervention with Qi Gong exercise could distinctively enhance the count level and function of T-lymphocyte cells.8
PHA tests showed that 1-2 months of Qi Gong exercise resulted in multiple effects such as reduction of average diameters of erythema, increase of normergy, and decrease of over-responding rates. Researchers concluded Qi Gong exercise can enhance internal cellular immune functions.8a
External lymphocyte transformation rates were tested using isotope method on 35 cancer patients practicing Qi Gong exercise for three months. The tests showed increases in average values from pre- to post-tests for E-rosette forming cells, PHA, and C3 (complement component).9
In a study comparing patients practicing Qi Gong exercises only to those using Qi Gong with chemotherapy, Qi Gong-only patients showed increased lymphocyte transformation levels compared to no signs of clear improvement in Qi Gong/chemotherapy group (P 0.05).10
Mice were inoculated with ascites carcinoma cells into the abdominal cavity and divided into two groups. External Qi Gong treatment was given to one group; no treatment given to the other. Observational data show the thymus gland index of mice in no-Qi Gong group shrank 1.08, 1.48 and 3.41 mg on 5th, 10th and 15th day respectively, while that of mice in Qi Gong group only lost 0.57, 1.19 and 2.29 mg respectively during the same periods. The loss difference between two groups reached as much as 51%, 29% and 12% respectively. The same study also showed improvement in cellular immune function of the mice in Qi Gong group.10a
Lymphocyte transformation rates of Qi Gong masters were studied before and after a retreat (i.e., a special period during which Qi Gong masters do exercise with no food). The masters' blood samples showed significant rise in the rates when by the 21st day of retreat with continued increase up to 0 days after the retreat. Qi Gong retreat is capable of elevating the cellular immune function of master practitioners in a sustainable way.11
E-rosette levels of 7 chronic disease patients under Qi Gong treatment were examined. Their average e-rosette reading after 43-day treatment reached 76.1+/-5.3%, compared with 51.0+/-9.6% (X+/-SD) before treatment (P<0.01).11a
Lymphocyte transformation values were tested in a group of 38 Qi Gong exercisers for 20 days using an incorporation method called 3HTdR. In beginner exercisers, values improved from 244.97+/-53.8% to 557.74+/-109.29%, while in the Qi Gong veterans, the readings increased from 305.74+/-104.11% to 496.66+/-104.07% (P<0.01).12

A-3. Effect on Humeral Immunity
The ability of Qi Gong exercise to heighten gamma globulin level was discovered as early as the 1960s.

Qi Gong exercise was found to increase salivary IgA and lysozyme levels, average effectiveness reached 86.7% and 87.6% respectively. By comparison, regular exercises or sedentary rests showed no improvement at all.13
According to a study of 27 exercisers, a single Qi Gong exercise boosted the average salivary lysozyme level from 9.25 micro gram/ml to 13.69 micro gram/ml, while a control group of 10 people showed no obvious changes during 30-minute time lapse.14
A study showed that, prior to Qi Gong exercise, the salivary IgA level of Qi Gong group members (Qi Gong exercisers who had practiced from 1-31 years) was higher than that of beginner group (0.5-1year) and control group (non exercisers); but after Qi Gong exercise, the salivary SIgA level of Qi Gong group members declined while that of beginner group remained almost the same. The study also indicates that the salivary IgA levels of Qi Gong exercisers before exercise is linearly correlated with daily exercise time (hours), but has nothing to do with exerciser's practice history (years). The reduced volume of salivary IgA (mg/ml) of Qi Gong exercisers after exercise is positively correlated with daily exercise time. Above conclusions sufficiently proves the effectiveness of Qi Gong exercise on improvement of salivary IgA and lysozyme content. 15After a three-month observation on 36 cancer patients under Qi Gong treatment, the following improvements were found: IgG reading increased from 767.47mg % to 1193mg% (P<0.01) (although IgA and IgM readings showed no significant changes).16
Upon completion of a similar test on 16 patients who had been practicing Qi Gong for 6- 12 months, it was concluded that Qi Gong exercise can play a bi-directional role in regulating humeral immunity.17
Immunoglobulin levels of 25 Qi Gong beginners showed no substantial changes in IgA and IgM readings after three months of Qi Gong exercise, but distinct rises of IgG levels. Only one beginner's IgG showed decline after exercise.18
Another study showed that IgA and IgM levels in blood of Qi Gong masters after retreat increased distinctively within the normal range. Salivary IgA increased from 42.3 mg/ml before retreat to 59mg/ml on 21st day of retreat. IgG increased to 2013mg/ml on 10th day of retreat (over normal range), but declined to normal range on 21st day. The researcher concluded that retreat effects on Qi Gong masters has a bi-directional regulating function on humeral immunity.

A-4. Effect on Interferon

A Qi Gong practice that balances qi through each of the meridians was found to induce the adjustment of intrinsic factors (such as lymphocyte transformation) of the body, leading to activation and release of interferon.20
In a study of Qi Gong influence on changes of organism interferon, 6 out of 24 Qi Gong masters' serum interferon titer reached 4unit/ml.
Among 48 Qi Gong beginners (exercise Qi Gong for three months), 6 patients' serum interferon titer reached 4 unit/ml, and one reached 8 unit/ml. By comparison, the serum interferon titer of the control group (made of 48 healthy persons) was all negative.21
B. Effect of Qi Gong on Respiratory System

Breathing relies on movements of respiratory muscles. Among them, the diaphragm plays a most critical role.

Observation through X-ray shows the amplitude of diaphragm movement caused by deep abdominal breathing during Qi Gong exercise is twice that of regular breathing, findings that strongly suggest increases in intrathoracic and intra-abdominal pressures. Shanghai Hongqiang Hospital used X-ray to check the changes of pulmonary function during Qi Gong exercise. 10 records of kymography showed that the amplitude of diaphragm muscle movement during Qi Gong exercise was 2.5cm higher than that before exercise and the average increase of diaphragm muscle movements reached 5cm. Lab tests also indicates that the upward and downward amplitude of diaphragm muscle movements reached 5-10 cm during Qi Gong exercise, comparing 2-3 cm for regular people. An increase of 1 cm in amplitude of diaphragm muscle movements stands for about 300 ml increase in vital capacity.22

The volume of each inspiration or expiration under normal respiration is called the tidal volume. The tidal volume of an average adult is around 400-500 ml, about 70% of it coming from diaphragm muscle movement, 25% from the movements of external intercostal muscles.

One report showed that the average tidal volume of 10 patients increased from 482 ml to 740 ml through a 15-minute Qi Gong exercise.22

Qi Gong exercise requires deep abdominal breathing, which leads to a significant increase of tidal volume. The clear increase of oxygen absorption rate (from 3.9% to 4.91%) helps keep the blood oxygen saturation at or above the normal level, providing cells easy access to oxygen.

In a study on pulmonary function changes before and after Qi Gong exercise, it was shown that Qi Gong exercise led to the rise of maximum amplitude of contraction waves of the pulmonary resistance hemodromogram, and the rising time was also shortened significantly. It was concluded that Qi Gong exercise can enhance the arterial elasticity and blood oxygen saturation around the right lung area, resulting in invigoration of pulmonary circulation and enhancement of oxygen delivery function.23
Increases in vital capacity and flow rate were noted as a result of Qi Gong exercise.24

The improvement of pulmonary function helps absorption of more oxygen and ejection of carbon oxide, which facilitates the metabolism of lung tissues, drainage of the secretion, as well as the build-up of pulmonary defense.

Other lab tests indicate that the oxygen consumption of an exerciser in calm meridian state (a meditative Qi Gong state in which conscious/unconscious mind is balanced) is lower than that in the sound sleep condition. That shows that Qi Gong exercise can be used as a protective approach in saving and recovery of energy.

The breathing methods widely used in Qi Gong treatment for cancer patients can be characterized as inspiration surpassing expiration. The absorption of larger volume of oxygen benefits the cancer patients in the following ways: 1) a rise of oxygen volume in blood improves blood quality, making organism easier to get oxygen; 2) inspiration of larger volume of negative ion in the fresh air helps the balance between of positive and negative charges in the organism cells, enhancing the electron activities and strengthening body's anti-tumor capabilities; and 3) because cancer cells are anorectic, a raised oxygen level creates an environment hard for cancer cells to exist.

C. Effect of Qi Gong on Cardiovascular System

Lab tests done by Chongqing Medical Institute showed that, after entering into calm state through Qi Gong exercise, the heart rates of exercisers have a tendency to slow down, but the rates speed up significantly when exercisers shift into physical movements.

In a study of heart rate changes of 60 Qi Gong exercisers, it was found that average pulse rate of exercisers in static state before exercise was 73.4/minute and increased 28% to 93.4/minute during the exercise.25
A study of Qi Gong exercisers showed an increase of cardiac output from 74.75 ml before exercise to 95 ml in a calm state after exercise. Ventricular output increased from 4.91 liter/min. to 5.84 liter/min. (The cardiac output of an average adult is 60-80 ml/pulse, the ventricular output is 5-6 liter/minute.)26
Electrophysiological methods were used to monitor Qi Gong effects on left heart function. Tests showed (except for readings at the time of electrical-mechanical contraction) significant improvements for Qi Gong exercisers: the index of ejection prophase declined, the index of ejection interval phase for left heart extended, the ratio of ejection prophase index/left heart ejection interval phase index declined, the time of mechanical contraction prolonged, ejection fraction increased, heart rate decreased, and amplitudes of electrocardiographic waves of TaVF and TV5 heightened. By comparison, the control group (comprised of people in static and light movement states) showed no signs of changes.27
Qi Gong exercise was shown to be capable of adjusting cardiovascular function and enhancing cardiac contractility.28 After a 6-12 months of observation on various Qi Gong exercisers, in addition to immediate effect in improving left heart function (the above mentioned improvements could be achieved in one month by a Qi Gong beginner), it was found that the long term positive effect on cardiovascular function can be sustained as long as exercise continued.29
A study of 40 Qi Gong exercisers showed changes of microcirculation before and after exercise. Lingual microcirculation immediately after Qi Gong exercise showed obvious enhancements in the areas such as form of capillary loops, stagnation of blood, blood flow rate and flow form. Also, distinct improvements were found after Qi Gong exercise in microcirculation of nail fold, color of capillary loops, arterial and venous time, blood flow form, arrangement of capillary loops and etc. Qi Gong exercise puts cerebral cortex under a special inhibitory state, which benefits the adjustment of vegetative nerve functions, resulting in dilation of small arteries, expansion of blood vessels, improvement of vascular permeability, and increase of vascular flow volume. All those enhancements of microcirculation help the course of self-recovery by the body.30
Other tests conducted also found that Qi Gong exercise played a positive role in regulating qi and blood and enhancing blood flow.31
In a study examining effect of Qi Gong on blood rheology, 51 exercisers were assessed before and after 3 months of practicing Qi Gong exercise. Tests showed that average reading of proportional high mutation viscosity of whole blood declined from 4.45+/-0.66 to 4.27+/-0.61 (P<0.05), low mutation viscosity declined from 6.78+/-1.34 to 6.44+/-1.16 (P<0.05), and proportional plasma viscosity declined from 1.74+/-0.19 to 1.18+/-0.10 (P<0.05). The adhesive aggregation of plasma is an important cause of stasis of blood flow, which is often regarded as a source or a part of the development of cancer. Because its effect on reduction of blood aggregation and improvement of blood flow, Qi Gong exercise has been widely recognized as a meaningful way to prevent cancer.32
D. Effect of Qi Gong on Digestive System

Chinese Medicine theory says that the spleen and stomach provide the material basis of an acquired condition. In a sense, the defense and recovery abilities of a cancer patient heavily rely on the function of his/her digestive system. Qi Gong exercise helps regulate enterogastric peristalsis and influences the secretion of digestive glands. The unique breathing methods used by Qi Gong effectively expand the amplitude of diaphragm movements, which in turn strengthen massaging function on intestine and stomach.

Physiological activities of the digestive system are directly controlled and regulated by the vegetative nerve system. Systematic Qi Gong exercise can dynamically change the excitation rates of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves critical to the digestive function. Cerebral cortex also played an important role in physiological activities of the digestive system. Consequences of emotional changes on digestive function is one example. Qi Gong exercise helps the balance of emotion, creating a favorable condition for digestive function.

When one is in a state in which meridians are calm, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves function in a harmonic way, creating an environment enabling the cerebral cortex to regulate the subcortical center, and allowing diaphragm to do its massaging job evenly under a stable emotion. All of these occur as a result of Qi Gong effects on digestive function. Bi-directional regulating functions are another character of Qi Gong worth noting. Qi Gong exercise is capable of deepening peristaltic waves of intestine and stomach, speeding up peristaltic rhythms, strengthening muscle tension, and enhancing excretory capability. And at the same time, if excess peristalsis occurs, Qi Gong exercise can also play an inhibitory role.

According to a lab test, 7of 10 exercisers' peristaltic rhythms increased 8.4%-44.5% after Qi Gong exercise. The average increase reached as high as 25.4%; the forming time of peristaltic waves shortened 0.4-61%, average rate reached 20.68%. Because breathing speed increased, the amplitude of stomach movements increased along with that of diaphragm. An expiration pulls stomach upward and an inspiration pushes it down. If using the low end of greater curvature of stomach as a base, the average ascending and descending amplitude of greater curvature of stomach reached 9.7 cm during Qi Gong exercise.
Tests of gastric secretions, duodenal secretions and bile have also demonstrated the regulating effects of Qi Gong exercise on digestive system. One such example is the increased gastric juice during Qi Gong exercise resulting in heightened level of free acid.. The volume of protease in gastric juice has also been observed to rise after exercise. In addition, excitation of sympathetic nerves caused by unique breathing and lingual movements during Qi Gong exercise also promote a rise in secretory volume of spittle. The salivary amylase volume of cancer patients is normally lower than healthy ones, but it can be changed through Qi Gong exercise. Qi Gong exercise is capable of enhancing the volume and activity of salivary amylase, ultimately leading to improvements in appetite and nutrition of the patients.

Salivary amylase decomposes starch into maltose. Chinese medicine theory puts saliva in a very high position, thinking it capable of irrigating viscera and bowels, lubricating limbs, removing diseases and extending longevity. Tests showed Qi Gong exercise is an effective way to increase the saliva volume.

Average volume of active salivary amylase among 61 chronic disease patients before Qi Gong exercise was 415.3+/-32.6 unit, increasing to 538.8+/-37.8 after two months of Qi Gong exercise (approximately 6 hours daily)(P<0.05). Average salivary sodium volume before exercise was 11.32+/-1.94 mEq/L, raised to 21.40+/-193 mEq/L after one month of exercise (P<0.01) and to 23.58+/-2.35 mEq/L (P<0.01) after two months of exercise. The average salivary potassium volume before exercise was 28.95+/-0.70 mEq/L (P<0.01), declined to 19.44+/-0.45 mEq/L after one month of exercise (P<0.01), and reached 20.76+/-0.82 (P<0.01) after two months. The sodium/potassium correlation value was 0.46+/-0.08 before exercise and increased to 1.12+/-0.08 (P<0.01) and 1.18+/-1.13 (P<0.01) after one and two months of exercise respectively. Though values of sodium, potassium and the correlation data changed because of Qi Gong exercise, the salivary acid-base scale (PH) remained the same. With the rise of saliva volume, the average daily intake of food rose from 400 grams before exercise to 650 grams after exercise. The patients' digestive capacity for foods high in fat and protein content was also improved.33
The effectiveness of Qi Gong treatment on atrophic gastritis results in slower development of cancer. The effects of Chongyang meridian were tested using a Qi Gong exercise characterized by deep breathing, by examining electrogastrographic data of patients with gastrointestinal diseases under Qi Gong treatment. It was found that Qi Gong treatment can play a bi-directional role in regulating vibration amplitudes and frequencies of patients' electrogastrographic readings. As a result of deep breathing, reciprocal excitation and inhibition occurred on tonicity of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve activities. Because Qi Gong allows one to control the flow of qi thereby directing the flow of blood, and emphasizes opening the collaterals along the channels, changes of periodicity of gastrointestinal activities could have an effect on facilitating the path of cerebral cortex-hypothalamus-internal organs. While influencing gastrointestinal activities, it also starts to activate conscious activities through feedback mechanisms in the path. After integration in cortical layer, a complete loop of self -regulation takes shape, capable of regulating hyper- or hypo-states of gastrointestinal activities into normal conditions.34
E. Effect of Qi Gong on Cranial Nerve System

E-1. Effect on Encephalogram
An analysis of is potential charters of Qi Gong masters in meridian state (i.e., a state of balance of conscious/unconscious mind) demonstrated that Qi Gong exercise can give rise to Alpha-1 waves in forehead and central areas. The increased speed of Alpha -1 rhythms represents improvement of cerebral activities in terms of synchronizing and nonrandom orientation function. Contrary to the inhibition state of sleep, the state of calm meridians is a special state of excitation, totally different from the states between sleep and consciousness.

Other tests indicated that a prolonged standing posture (a particular Qi Gong pose that balances meridian) could generate Q and alpha waves for both Qi Gong masters and regular persons, but the increased level of Qi Gong masters in meridian state are much higher than that of non-masters. The higher level of Q and alpha waves represents the invigoration of synchronizing activities by brain cells and also marks the enhancement of quasi-working state of he cortical center. For a well-trained Qi Gong master, the deeper he gets into the state of meridian, the higher controlling and regulating powers he gains on cerebral center.

E-2. Effect on Rheoencephalogram

The rheoencephalogram was used to compare cerebral blood flow before and after exercises. A group of 72 persons practiced Qi Gong exercises 4-5 hours daily. At baseline, only 22 persons' cerebral blood flow levels were within normal range, but 42 were normal after three months of exercise. Meanwhile, the number of persons with insufficient and excessive blood flow levels declined dramatically. For those with insufficient cerebral blood flow, levels of their four leads were all elevated after exercise. Results also indicated the exercise lowered blood flow levels for those with excess cerebral blood flow at baseline. The difference before and after Qi Gong exercise was distinct. The persons with normal flow levels before exercise showed no obvious changes after exercise. By comparison, among 15 persons with abnormal cerebral blood levels in the 27-person control group, only two showed improvement after a three month period.36 These results have been cited to assert that Qi Gong could play a bi-directional role in regulating cerebral blood flow.37
In a sample of15 Qi Gong exercisers with a history of 6-plus years of practice, the effects of Qi Gong on changes in cerebral blood flow were tested. After 15 minutes of standing meridian (i.e., Qi Gong movement that balances the meridians), cerebral blood flow sped up significantly. Abundant blood flow helps the delivery of oxygen and nutrition to organs. When exercisers came into the state of calm meridian, the consumption of oxygen and energy was reduced, which invigorated cell activities and enhanced the excited state of cranial nerve cells in terms of synchronization and nonrandom functions.39
The networking function of the brain was studied under meridian state. The left and right electric signal number of the afterbrain of a master was 1.8 before he entered the meridian state, but increased to 2.1 when he entered into meridian state, and remained unchanged even after the end of meridian.39 The test demonstrates that Qi Gong exercise is capable of reducing the complexity of activities made by cerebral neuronal ensemble. It is identical with the conclusions made by others that Qi Gong exercise can enhance the nonrandom activities of brain cells. The test also shows that the effect of Qi Gong treatment on diseases including cancer is sustainable.

E.3. Effect on Vegetative Nerves
Among various vegetative nerves, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve systems are classified as efferent nerves that control the internal organs. The antagonistic movements between those two nerve systems directly influence the organ functions. Because of that, a harmony between those two nerve systems becomes critical to human health. The damages or twists of balance between them construes the important causes of diseases.

Tests of skin electro-reaction demonstrates the regulating effect of Qi Gong exercise on vegetative nerve systems. When a stimulant is applied to visual and auditory organs, or when one is in an emotional condition, the skin electric resistance has a tendency to decline. Other research findings show an electric potential difference between two skin points even without outside stimulant. The electric activities of skin are related to sweat gland secretions and reflect the states of function and reaction in the sympathetic nervous system and emotional changes. When a Qi Gong master is in a calm meridian state, his/her skin electric frequency and wave amplitude decline, the movements of limbs are in the forms of equal phase and synchronism, corresponding to breathing rhythms. This state suggests that a stable and balanced relation between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve systems has been established through Qi Gong exercise.

The time value of vestibule has often been used for observation of functions and states of subcortical vegetative nerve center. A prolonged time indicates a reduction in irritability of sympathetic nerve system. When a Qi Gong master enters into a calm meridian state, that time value is prolonged in correspondence with the depth of calmness. The time values collected during meridian state shows that Qi Gong exercise can regulate the tension of sympathetic nerve and improve its relation with parasympathetic nerve.

In summary, tests show that viable regulating and recovering effects can be achieved through Qi Gong exercise on cerebral cortex, the subcortical center, as well as vegetable nerve systems.

*1 Xu Hefeng, M.D.
*2 Shen Zaiwen, M.D.
*3 Luo Seng, M.D.
*4 Hu Xueqian, M.D.
*5 Wang Junmei, M.D.
*6 Sheng Zaiwen, M.D.
*7 Li Shaowen, M.D.
*8 Ou Susong, M.D.
*8A Duan Guangzhou, M.D.
*9 Wang Shuanxiu, M.D.
*10 Luo Seng, M.D.
*10A GuLigang, M.D.
*11 Huang Guanghua, M.D.
*12 Hong Sunghua, M.D.
*13 Zhou Zhenhe, M.D.
*14 Fan, M.D.
*15 Wang Chongzhi, M.D.
*16 Wang Meijun, M.D.
*17 Zhang Yong, M.D.
*18 Li Heyi, M.D.
*19 Huang Guanghua, M.D.
*20 Ren Zhengxin, M.D.
*21 Huang Renzhong, M.D.
*22 Liu Renfu, M.D.
*23 Tian Guangzhi, M.D.
*24 Tian , M.D.
*25 Bao Guojin, M.D.
*26 Tian Guangzhi, M.D.
*27 " ".
*28 " ".
*29 " ".
*30 Mo Feifan, M.D.
*31 Wang Chongxing, M.D.
*32 Chen Wenfa, M.D.
*33 Duan Xinzhou, M.D.
*34 Feng Yanzheng, M.D.
*35 Zhang Jianzhou, M.D.
*36 Liu Yuanliang, M.D.
*37 " "
*38 Liang Feng, M.D.
*39 Lin Yagu, M.D.