Male patients who undergo radiation therapy for their prostate cancer can turn to practicing yoga to help reduce the adverse effects typically associated with the treatment, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania.

Scientists from UPenn's Perelman School of Medicine examined the impact of Eischens yoga on prostate cancer by having 68 individuals diagnosed with the condition to participate in 75-minute yoga classes twice a week.

Around 66 percent of the patients willingly participated in the classes, while 40 percent of them were able to complete the program.

The researchers monitored the impact of the exercise on the prostate cancer patients through a set of questions that determined their fatigue levels, urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and their overall quality of life.

The team chose to measure these factors as they are some of the side effects most often seen in men with prostate cancer.

They also made use of Eischens yoga because of its sustainability for people of different body types, fitness levels and experience.

By the end of the program, the researchers found that prostate cancer patients who were able to complete the Eischens yoga classes while receiving radiation therapy had better results in terms of their urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

These individuals also showed a considerable improvement in their fatigue levels related to their cancer, a side effect typically observed in 60 percent to 90 percent of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.

The UPenn believe the positive findings could be a result of yoga's focus on strengthening an individual's pelvic floor muscles and improving the flow of blood. This is viewed as a way to help reduce the impact of erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.

Yoga can also lessen the patient's fatigue levels, contributing to an improvement in their quality of life.

While earlier studies have explored the impact of yoga on cancer patients, researchers have mostly focused on female patients diagnosed with breast cancer. This is because of the notion that male patients would not be willing to take part in holistic fitness programs such as yoga.

According to recent estimates, around 72 percent of people who practice yoga are women, and around 18 percent of them are over 55 years old.

The American Cancer Society said close to 240,000 American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, with an average age of 65 years old.

The findings of the University of Pennsylvania were presented during the International Conference of the Society of Integrative Oncology in October.

Photo: Oleg Klementiev | Flickr 

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