Prostate cancer

Updated 15 February 2018

Cancer patients get health benefits from yoga

A study shows that cancer patients doing yoga while undergoing radiation therapy had fewer side effects, suffered less fatigue and experienced a better quality of life.

Yoga may benefit men who are undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer, according to a small study.

Many such patients experience side effects, including fatigue, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence and a decline in their quality of life, the researchers said.

Psychosocial benefit

The new study included 27 men who attended 75-minute yoga classes twice a week. These patients saw their quality of life and side effects remain stable throughout their radiation treatment.

"Data have consistently shown declines in these important measures among prostate cancer patients undergoing cancer therapy without any structured fitness interventions, so the stable scores seen with our yoga programme are really good news," Dr Neha Vapiwala, an associate professor in the radiation oncology department of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a university news release.

Read: Yoga tied to better sleep after cancer

Yoga may help reduce cancer – and treatment-related fatigue, the study authors suggested. It may also strengthen pelvic floor muscles and increase blood flow, which could improve erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

"There may also be a psychosocial benefit that derives from participation in a group fitness activity that incorporates meditation and promotes overall healthiness. And all of this ultimately improves general quality of life," Vapiwala added.

The study was presented this at the Society of Integrative Oncology's international conference in Boston. Research presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Previous research has suggested that yoga may benefit cancer patients, but those studies have focused mainly on breast cancer.

Nearly 240,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society, which funded the study.

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Image: Man in yoga position from iStock