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prostate cancer benefits of weight training

An effective treatment - but it has its side effects
The combination of radiation treatment and hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), has been proven effective against cancer. ADT works by inhibiting testosterone production. Seeing that testosterone is involved in multiple bodily processes, many patients suffer from treatment side effects. Testosterone functions as a caretaker in the muscles. The absence of testosterone accelerates aging and the natural deterioration of the body. Common issues associated with hormone therapy include muscular atrophy and reduced muscle function.

Loss of bone mass is another known side effect. In addition, many patients gain weight, feel tired and experience lack of energy and drive.

Studies have demonstrated that resistance training may reduce a number of these side effects but few studies have been conducted so far.

The aim of the study was to examine what effect 16 weeks of resistance training would have on prostate cancer patients undergoing hormone therapy. Changes in muscle mass were registered by measuring fat free body mass and collecting muscle tissue samples from a selection of the patients.

Nilsen wanted to study the effects of resistance training on body fat percentage, bone mineral density, muscle strength and performance in different functional tests mimicking everyday situations; such as running up a flight of stairs or getting up from a chair.

Exercising three times per week
The study involved 58 men suffering from prostate cancer. Half of them undertook a resistance training program consisting of five leg exercises and four upper-body exercises.

The patients worked out three times per week and continuously increased training volume. Muscle and fat measurements were taken in the same manner prior to and after the training period.

Increased muscle mass in their legs and arms
“Our study utilized a higher training volume than previous studies. The subjects in the training group gained a significant amount of muscle mass in their legs and arms. But in spite of the higher training volume, the study did not show an increased benefit compared to previous findings,” says Nilsen.

“In addition, the study did not find an increase in muscle mass in the truncus (torso) among the prostate cancer patients. This finding was surprising, and the results are different from what we find in healthy seniors undertaking resistance training,” says Nilsen.