Can Exercise Reduce the Side Effects of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer?

In 2019, 44% of American men with prostate cancer chose to address their cancer with hormone therapy. 

Also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), hormonal therapy focuses on decreasing androgen levels. 

But, just like any cancer treatment, hormone therapy ends up with side effects. 

The question is, can exercise help curb these adverse reactions? Here is what research has to say. 

Side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer

Hormonal therapy plays an essential role in prostate cancer treatment. But, the therapy has also been a subject of heavy criticism. 

Some experts claim the cancer treatment shows minimal effectiveness. While other researchers suggest the treatment can reduce men’s quality of life and induce side effects. 

The typical side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer include:

  • Bone loss 

  • Susceptibility to fractures

  • Plummeting libido

  • Loss in muscle mass 

  • Reduction in physical strength

  • Blood lipid fluctuations

  • Weight gain

  • Elevated risk for heart problems

  • Mood swings

  • Exhaustion 

Hormone therapy is a viable treatment alternative for many prostate cancer patients. The AR gene offers instructions for creating a protein known as the androgen receptor. These are hormones, like the testosterone hormone, and play a key role in sexual development in men. By shutting the genes on and off and regulating any hormone, it is possible to reduce cancer. 

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Can Exercise Reduce the Side Effects of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer?

According to the University of East Anglia, a prescription in short-term physical activities for men can ease the side effects of hormone therapy for prostate cancer. Particularly in those with metastatic prostate cancer. 

The 2019 therapy trial aimed to decrease adverse reactions such as the elevated risk of heart issues and weight gain. Treatment data showed that after three months, resistance and aerobic training prevented side effects. Mainly in fatigue and cardiopulmonary fitness.

Exercises That Can Help

A structured exercise program has much to offer patients living with prostate cancer, stated professor John Saxton from UEA’s Norwich Medical School. 

Hormone therapy is known for causing unwanted adverse reactions, such as hot flashes, erectile dysfunction, and more. But, with the susceptibility to heart diseases, it is now more important than ever to work on your fitness routine. 

This study indicates that some of the adverse events from androgen deprivation are decreased in men who start to exercise regularly. Options like aerobic and resistance training during androgen therapy can help. A tailored treatment and fitness program can create notable effects. 

A combination of weight training (muscle-building) with aerobic fitness (walking and running) are a popular choice for prostate cancer. Patients with prostate cancer should start exercising about the same time they start taking the prescribed androgen medication. 

Many experts also recommend exercise for losing muscle, energy, loss of bone, and insulin resistance. Being physically active can help ease some of these adverse events from hormone therapy or androgen meds. But, the sexual side effects of this therapy are often the most difficult to deal with. 

Most emotional and sexual adverse events dissipate after a man stops taking hormone therapy. But, for older patients who’ve been relying on this treatment for an extended period, their testosterone might not fully recover. That’s where erectile dysfunction drugs or herbal remedies might help. 


The prostate gland goes through a series of changes when dealing with prostate cancer. With hormone therapy, androgen production must be kept in check to treat the prostate. 

That’s where side effects like hot flashes can occur. Hormone releasing meds are here to mitigate cancer problems. Exercise can manage some of the adverse reactions of hormone therapy for individuals with prostate cancer. 

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  1. Namiki M, Ueno S, Kitagawa Y, Fukagai T, Akaza H. Effectiveness and adverse effects of hormonal therapy for prostate cancer: Japanese experience and perspective. Asian J Androl. 2012.
  2. Limonta P, Montagnani Marelli M, Moretti RM. LHRH analogues as anticancer agents: pituitary and extrapituitary sites of action. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2001.
  3. University of East Anglia. “Reducing the side-effects of prostate hormone therapy with exercise.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2019.

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