Weight Training Benefits Prostate Cancer Patients
Exercise has been shown to help people with several types of cancer cope with the fatigue and functional decline that often result from the treatment for the disease. Now a new study shows for the first time that men with advanced prostate cancer can also reap some of these benefits.
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Vol. 21, No.9: 1653-1659), researchers from the Ottawa Regional Cancer Center in Canada report that weight training helped reduce fatigue and improved quality of life in a group of men being treated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer.
Hormone therapy (androgen suppression or deprivation) can shrink or slow the growth of existing prostate tumors by lowering levels of testosterone, which the cancer cells need to grow. This therapy is typically used when a prostate tumor has spread, or when the cancer has not been eliminated by other treatments like surgery or radiation, or when it has recurred after treatment.
But hormone therapy can have side effects including fatigue, functional decline, increased body fat, and loss of lean body tissue, lead author Roanne J. Segal, MD, and colleagues write. Because weight training (resistance exercise) has been shown to help healthy men build muscle, reduce fat, and improve mood, the researchers surmised it could have similar benefits for men on androgen suppression therapy.
Men Felt Stronger, Less Tired
The researchers recruited 155 men on hormone therapy for prostate cancer to take part in the study. All the men took an initial fitness test to determine upper and lower body strength, and completed a questionnaire about their level of fatigue and health-related quality of life.
Eighty-two men were then assigned to perform resistance training for 12 weeks. The patients met with a certified fitness consultant who showed them warm-up and cool-down exercises, and supervised a weight training program consisting of leg and chest exercises. The men worked out three times per week, doing two sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
The 73 men in the control group were not instructed or supervised in exercise during the 12-week study period, though they were given the same type of advice after the study.
When the study began, men in both groups had reported similar levels of fatigue and quality of life. After the 12 weeks, however, men who were doing resistance exercises felt less fatigued and reported a better quality of life than men in the control group. Men who trained with weights also increased their strength over the study period, while men who didn't actually lost strength in their arms and legs. Neither group improved in terms of body fat or body mass index (BMI).
No Increase in Testosterone
The men in the study achieved these physical improvements without any apparent negative side effects. The exercise program did not significantly change levels of testosterone or PSA (prostate-specific antigen, a marker of prostate cancer) in their blood.
However, the researchers did not check the men for anemia, a common side effect of prostate cancer, either before or after the study. If some of the men were anemic, that could have accounted for some of their fatigue.
Despite this limitation, this type of study provides important information for doctors who treat cancer patients, write oncologists Daniel Rayson and Leonard Reyno, of the QEII Cancer Care Program in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in an accompanying editorial.
"As clinicians, we are often asked 'What more can I do to improve my overall health,'" they write. This study "provides important guidance to cancer care clinicians" about the benefits of exercise for prostate cancer patients, they say.
The editorialists conclude that more programs like the one studied should be developed to help cancer patients feel better during and after treatment.
Article Source: Yahoo Health
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Lawrence M. Smith ACSW, LISW-S
Mental Health Clinician & Administrator
AKA as IronSmith (Pen name when I wrote articles in old PowerMag magazine)
Held Drug Free Powerlifting State, National, & World Records in the Federations NASA, AAPF, ADFPA, & Amateur IPA.