June 12 (UPI) -- Local pharmacies can help to increase physical activity and improve health conditions for prostate cancer patients, a new study says.
After three months of performing moderate and vigorous exercise recommended by pharmacies, men with the deadly disease lost an average of more than 2 pounds and improved their overall wellbeing, according to findings published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal. The pharmacy intervention also led to a 0.4 millimoles per liter reduction in cholesterol.
"Exercise and diet have been shown to reduce symptoms of prostate cancer treatment and lessen chances of cardiovascular disease," Sara Faithfull, a researcher at the University of Surrey and study author, said in a news release. "It is understandable that men who have successfully beaten cancer are reluctant to embark on an exercise regime by themselves, so they need help to know what to do and how much is required to make a difference."
The study included 116 men who had been treated for prostate cancer and visited one of nine community pharmacies throughout southern England to get checked for weight, BMI, blood cholesterol and blood pressure. They also received assessments for upper-limb strength grip strength, lower-limb strength ability and general fitness.
"We know that regular exercise and a healthy diet can help some men manage many of the side effects of prostate cancer treatments, as well as improving their mental health and wellbeing," said Heather Blake, director of support and influencing at Prostate Cancer UK and study author.
To improve fitness outcomes for the men, teams at the pharmacies used a computer algorithm to help prescribe personalized lifestyle changes, such as exercise and dietary advice. To keep the men on track, the pharmacies called the men regularly to guide them through the process.
One 2018 study shows that intensive exercise has the potential to delay the effects of prostate cancer.
The results of the study suggest the intervention should be replicated.
"We are therefore pleased that this study shows that community pharmacies can support men with prostate cancer to improve their physical activity and cardiovascular health. We now need to determine how this improvement can be sustained over longer periods of time," Blake said.