Research released at the ASCO meeting in Chicago confirms that regular exercise is a must for men with advanced prostate cancer.  It was found that a regular and  structured physical exercise program reduces cytokine production which is related to depression and  to the inflammatory processes.  According to the researchers these factors may impact prostate cancer progression.

Men receiving the standard of  care experienced a 0.08 log10 increase in pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 production, while men treated with an exercise program experienced a 0.03 log10 decrease in IL-6 (P<0.05), said Charles Kamen, PhD, research assistant professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

In his oral presentation at the meeting Kamen and colleagues observed a similar relationship with another pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-8. In the controls, the researchers noted a 0.03 log10 increase compared with a 0.04 log10 decrease among the exercise group.

Using the Profile of Mood States (POMS), the research team determined that psychological distress decreased 5.17 points among the exercise group but increased 2.43 points in the men who were in the control group (P=0.02).

“This study supports the use of exercise for cancer survivors for reducing psychological distress and suggests a potential biological mechanism by which this improvement occurs, namely by reducing systemic inflammation,” Kamen said in his presentation.

The study was very small, enrolling 35men (34 finished the study) for the exercise-based arm and  23 men in the control arm.   Both arms received the usual medical practice treatment regimens for prostate cancer.

Men were eligible for the study if they had prostate cancer, were scheduled to begin radiation therapy or androgen deprivation therapy, had a Karnofsky Performance Scale score of 60 or higher, had a life expectancy of at least a year, and had approval of their treating physician.

After only seven weeks the men were reassessed.

There was no adverse events in the study that were related to treatment; all were related to prostate cancer or other comorbidities.

The POMS scores were overall significantly in favor of the exercise group, and the subscales all trended in favor of exercise, except for the anger subscale in which there was virtually no change, Kamen said.

Similarly, most pro-inflammatory markers were reduced as well, he said.

We know that treatments affect changes in metabolism, that lead to weight gain, cause loss of lean muscle mass, change lipids, increase rates of diabetes, and it thins bones. Exercise is one of the best and most benign ways to combat these side effects.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.