(HealthDay News) — Among prostate cancer patients, novice yoga practitioners experience renewed energy and fewer of the sexual and urinary symptoms tied to radiation treatment, compared with men who don’t practice yoga, according to research published recently in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics.

Patients in the study underwent 6 to 9 weeks of external beam radiation therapy. Those who already did yoga, those with advanced cancer, and those who’d previously undergone radiation therapy were not included in the study. Twenty-two of the patients attended a structured yoga class 2 times a week while undergoing radiation therapy, while 28 others did not do yoga and served as a comparison group. Each yoga session lasted 75 minutes and included sitting, standing, and reclining positions that were modified to suit each patient’s needs and restrictions.

The researchers found that men who attended yoga classes had less fatigue and better sexual and urinary function than those in the comparison group, based on self-reported questionnaires. Overall, fatigue levels for men practicing yoga fell as the classes went on, while they rose for men not in the classes. Sexual functioning scores dropped for men in the non-yoga group; there was no change noted for those taking the yoga classes.

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“Yoga is known to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which is one of several postulated theories that may explain why this group did not demonstrate declining scores, as seen in the control group,” lead researcher Neha Vapiwala, MD, an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said in a university news release. “That may also explain the yoga patients’ improved urinary function scores.”

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    1. Ben-Josef AM, Chen J, Wileyto P, et al. Impact of Eischens Yoga During Radiation Therapy on Prostate Cancer Patient Symptoms and Quality of Life: A Randomized Phase II Trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 30 March 2017. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.03.043