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Experts are studying the effects of yoga on prostate cancer treatment
Yoga includes various mental and physical exercises. Many people use yoga to relax from our stressful everyday life. Researchers have now found that yoga can help ward off side effects of radiation treatment for prostate cancer.
The researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that yoga can reduce the side effects of radiation treatment for prostate cancer. The doctors published the results of the study in the medical journal "International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics".
Regular yoga reduces the negative effects of radiation treatment
If men with prostate cancer attended structured yoga classes twice a week while undergoing radiation treatment, the side effects that occurred were reduced. Those affected reported less fatigue, better urinary functions and better sexual functions, the authors explain.
Subjects were divided into two groups
All patients in the study underwent external prostate cancer radiation therapy for a period of between six and nine weeks. The participants were divided into two groups. One group took part in yoga classes twice a week, the other subjects only served as a control group, the doctors report.
Subjects took part in two 75-minute yoga sessions each week
Each yoga session lasted 75 minutes. The participants started with a five-minute breathing exercise and so-called centering techniques. Typical sessions included sitting, standing and lying positions, which were modified with the help of props, the scientists explain. This allowed the exercises to be adapted to the needs and restrictions of the patients.
Participants were regularly asked about their level of fatigue
The subjects were primarily assessed according to their degree of fatigue. Each participant filled out a questionnaire about the level of fatigue and its effects on everyday life, the researchers explain. For the first time, the test subjects had to fill out the questionnaire between two and three weeks before starting their radiation therapy. During radiotherapy, the questionnaire had to be answered twice a week. A final questionnaire was completed in the last week of radiation treatment or when participating in yoga classes, the experts add.
At the start of treatment, all participants reported very little fatigue
Before the patients started treatment, all participants in both groups were at the lower end of the scale. In other words, they reported low fatigue. As the treatment progressed, we observed a difference between the two groups, the scientists explain.
Yoga reduced fatigue levels
Patients in the yoga group reported lower levels of fatigue over the course of the time they took yoga classes, the researchers say. Patients from the control group tended to go in the opposite direction and reported greater fatigue as the treatment progressed.
The yoga group did not experience any typical increase in fatigue
Physicians actually assume that the reported fatigue increases in the fourth or fifth week of a typical radiation treatment. However, this effect was not observed in the yoga group. Both the severity of fatigue and the patient's ability to lead a normal everyday life seemed to be positively affected by the yoga class, the scientists add.
Typically, 85 percent of those treated have sexual health problems
The researchers also assessed both groups for their sexual health. Sexual dysfunction typically affects up to 85 percent of radiotherapy patients during treatment, the authors say.
Yoga prevents negative effects on sexual health
The study used the so-called International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) questionnaire. In this survey, the scale ranged from 0 to 25 points. People with scores below 12 points had moderate to severe erectile dysfunction. The number of points in the group of yoga participants remained largely unchanged. The control group experienced a decrease in their score during treatment.
Yoga also improved the urinary function of those treated
Yoga is known to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. This effect can possibly contribute to the yoga group not experiencing a drop in the score, the authors say. This could also be related to better urine function values. The results indicate an improved or stable urine function, the scientists report. This finding agrees with other studies on the effects of physical therapy on the pelvic floor muscles.
Yoga leads to a faster improvement in emotional well-being
The study also found that while the emotional well-being of both groups increased as treatment progressed, the evaluation results improved faster in the yoga class. An evaluation of physical well-being showed a similar pattern. (as)