A study out of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that yoga can lessen the side effects in men being treated for prostate cancer.
They found that general quality of life and measurements of side effects often experienced by prostate cancer patients–including fatigue, sexual health, and urinary incontinence–were stable throughout a course of outpatient radiation therapy among the men participating in an intensive yoga program.
Fatigue from cancer-related treatments is worse than regular fatigue that can be relieved by rest or sleep. Fatigue that stems from cancer or cancer treatments has been found to lower patients’ quality of life even more than pain, and studies have shown that anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of patients receiving radiation therapy report this symptom.
The possible explanation for the benefits of yoga seen in the study stems from physiologic data demonstrating its ability to help reduce cancer- as well as treatment- related fatigue and to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and increase blood flow. Those last two can also help with a couple other side-effects of cancer treatment such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
Yoga has been studied to help with side effects related to breast cancer and not prostate cancer because women tend to do yoga more than men. National statistics indicate that 72 percent of those who practice yoga are female, and only 18 percent of practitioners are over the age of 55. The median age at diagnosis for cancer of the prostate is 66.
The effect of yoga was measured by participants’ responses to a series of questions that assess overall quality-of-life, cancer-related fatigue, and prevalence of sexual and erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. The researchers chose these variables because they affect so many prostate cancer patients.
For more information, read the full study.
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