Football training may preserve bone health in prostate cancer patients

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Credit: Bo Kousgaard

Androgen deprivation therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer can lead to loss of muscle and bone mass. In a recent Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sport study of elderly patients undergoing the treatment, playing football–or what's known as soccer in the United States–over a 5-year period was linked with preserved bone mineral density (BMD) in the neck of the leg's femur. No associations were seen on body composition, fitness, and physical functioning.

The study included 22 patients who were part of the FC Prostate Randomized Controlled Trial in 2012 and 2013, half of whom participated in self-organized football. At 5 years follow-up, right femoral neck BMD improved in football players by 2.8%, while right femoral neck BMD decreased in controls by 2.0%.

The authors noted that observed absence of deterioration in BMD in the football players is remarkable considering the decreases in BMD usually observed with ageing and particularly in men exposed to androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer.

"We have previously shown improvements in BMD after 32 weeks of football training, and preserved BMD over 5 years in elderly men with prostate cancer is very encouraging. However, we are aware that the design of the present study does not allow for a causal relationship to be established between participation in football training over 5 years and the positive findings on BMD," said lead author Dr. Jacob Uth, of Rigshospitalet, in Denmark. "In addition, we are impressed that football has motivated this group of elderly cancer patients to continue to be physically active more than 5 years after they met in the FC Prostate Randomized Controlled Trial."

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