Designer backs yoga project at US hospital cancer ward

October 30th, 2008 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 30 (IANS) Famed fashion designer Donna Karan has sponsored a major project at a premier hospital here to clinically prove that yoga, meditation and aromatherapy can enhance regimens of chemotherapy and radiation in treating cancer.Karan, founder of the DKNY line of clothing and a yoga enthusiast, has donated $850,000, through her Urban Zen Foundation, for a year-long experiment combining Eastern and Western healing methods at the Beth Israel Medical Centre in Manhattan.

Overseen by Karan’s yoga masters, Rodney and Colleen Saidman Yee, 15 yoga teachers will be sent to the hospital’s cancer ward starting January next to work with non-terminal patients, and nurses will be trained in relaxation techniques, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Karan hopes to prove that the yoga and meditation regime can reduce classic symptoms of cancer and its treatment, like pain, nausea and anxiety and serve as a model for replication elsewhere.

Noting that a third of Americans seek alternative treatments, Beth Israel chief executive David Shulkin said: “To make care accessible to these third of Americans, we’re trying to embrace care that makes them more comfortable.”

Karan traces her commitment to integrative medicine to what she saw as the limited treatment of her sculptor husband and business partner, Stephan Weiss, who died of lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 62, and of Lynn Kohlman, a photographer, model and DKNY fashion director who died of brain and lung cancer in September.

Karan, who practises yoga daily, believes yoga works. “Now we have to prove it in the clinical setting,” she was quoted as saying by the Times.

She chose Beth Israel because it is among the handful of hospitals nationwide with full-fledged integrative medicine departments.

It has also experimented with integrating mainstream and alternative therapies for eight years.

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