Study suggests that the side effects of therapy might be eased in patients who practice yoga.
A new research study suggests that yoga may be helpful in easing the side effects of prostate cancer therapy.
The study found that men who were novice yoga practitioners had more energy and fewer side effects such as sexual and urinary symptoms that are normally associated with radiation treatment, compared with men who didn’t practice yoga.
The typical levels of patient-reported fatigue that are normally expected to increase by around the fourth or fifth week within a typical treatment course were not evident in the study group that was practicing yoga.
Researchers reported that as many 85 percent of men who undergo radiation therapy for prostate cancer experience erectile dysfunction, often because they are also taking testosterone-depleting treatments. Many men undergoing radiation also report great fatigue after the therapy.
The patients involved in the study underwent six to nine weeks of external beam radiation therapy. Patients who were previously yoga practitioners, those with advanced stages of cancer, and those who’d previously undergone radiation therapy were not included in the study.
Of the patients in the study, 22 attended a structured yoga class two times a week while undergoing radiation therapy, while 28 others did not do yoga. This group served as a comparison group.
The findings, based on self-reported questionnaires, suggest that men who attended yoga classes had less fatigue and better sexual and urinary function than those in the other group. Furthermore, fatigue levels for men taking yoga fell as the classes went on, while they rose for men not in the classes. There was not a drop in sexual functioning scores for the men in the yoga group but these same scores dropped for the men in the non-yoga group.
One of the many theories that may explain these positive results is that yoga is known to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
The study on yoga and men with prostate cancer was funded by grants from the American Cancer Society and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and was published recently in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics.