Osteoporosis researchers Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore have released a study that shows exercise may bone loss from androgen deprivation therapy and radiation for prostate cancer.

This would greatly decrease the risk for bone fracture and improve the patient’s quality of life.

The course of therapy for men who are diagnosed with localized prostate cancer often involves radiation and then months of androgen deprivation therapy. The radiation kills the cancer cells and the androgen deprivation therapy is used to decrease the levels of testosterone and estrogen, both of which feed the cancer cells.

When successful, the combination of the two therapies keep the tumor from growing. Unfortunately, patients who get the androgen deprivation therapy lose from 4 to 13% of their bone density annually, when compared to healthy men who will lose on average from .5 to 1% per year. Usually, it is post menopausal women who are considered to be at the greatest risk for bone density loss, but in reality, men have the greater rate.

The original study’s purpose was to document the effects of exercise on other quality-of-life measures, including:

The dual energy x-ray, known as DEXA scans, collected during those analyses showed such dramatic and compelling results that the research team went back to develop the bone loss portion of the study.

Research found that prostate cancer patients who are undergoing androgen deprivation therapy and walked around 5 times a week, for 30 minutes. The data included information before and after prostate therapy, including DEXA scans and light exercise. Only 34 patients returned for the DEXA scans. Remember that the authors had not designed the study to explore bone loss, so repeat DEXA scans were not reportedly part of the study protocol.

The patients reported that they exercised by walking at a moderate, pace, and were able to maintain and in some cases increase, their bone density. Those who did not do any exercise, had lost an astounding 2% of their bone density during the two month study. It is estimated that men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy lose between 4% and 13% of their bone mass each year.

Seventy sedentary men all of whom had Stage I-III prostate cancer, participated in the research project. Only 34 returned for the final bone scan. They were split into two groups, one that was do light walking exercise and one got the standard protocol of no exercise therapy while treated.

Over half of the participants also got the androgen deprivation therapy. The purpose was to determine what effects. if any, a home based walking program would have in the level of the patient’s physical function as well as being able to manage the symptoms that were related to the cancer and the treatments while they were undergoing one or both of the treatments. The the quality of life and bone density improved and that walking had no harmful side effects.

The lead author of the study is Paula Chiplis, PhD. , RN went on to say, “We tend to pay less attention to bone loss in men.” Jennifer Wenzel, PhD, RN, CCM, also from John Hopkins, said, “It was extremely concerning to see the bone loss occurring in our patients in just 8 weeks. This has important implications, considering prostate cancer is the leading cancer for men.”

Osteoporosis Signs and Symptoms

Osteoporosis has been refered to as the “silent thief,” because bone loss can occur with no obvious symptoms. The fact is that your bones wont feel weaker. Osteoporisis symptoms are slow to develop and you may not realize that they’re associated with osteoporosis. A loss of height, change in posture, or severe back pain may be caused by osteoporosis.

Then a fracture occurs. This is when many people discover that they have osteoporosis. Early diagnosis and treatment may help lessen the risk of fracture (broken bone).

Natural or alternative treatments are proving to be the most effective to prevent this bone loss.

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