Yoga may improve quality of life, immune response in patients with prostate cancer


Patients with prostate cancer have a 20% to 30% incidence of depression and anxiety; however, practicing yoga could improve their quality of life.

Yoga could help improve quality of life, promote an antitumor immune response, and reduce inflammation in men with prostate cancer undergoing prostatectomy, according to phase 2 results presented at the 2021 AUA Annual Meeting.1

Yoga has a direct effect on the vagus nerve, which can shape how a person thinks, remembers, and feels. And patients with prostate cancer have a 20% to 30% incidence and prevalence of depression and anxiety.

In previous studies, yoga has demonstrated an improved quality of life for patients with cancer, as well as lower inflammation. Additionally, newer, emerging data has demonstrated that mindfulness exercises, such as yoga, can cause the frontal and limbic parts of the brain to structurally change.

Dharam Kaushik, MD

Dharam Kaushik, MD

“However, if you look at hierarchy of evidence, most data on immune benefits of yoga is from small series and case reports, no such data exists for prostate cancer. Given these findings of improvement in quality of life with yoga, we started looking at [the] role of yoga in prostate cancer,” said Dharam Kaushik, MD, associate professor in the department of urology at the University of Texas Health, San Antonio, during the presentation of the data.

The primary outcomes of this clinical trial [NCT02620033] was self-reported outcomes of quality of life at baseline, and 6 weeks. Secondary outcomes included immune cell status and cytokine levels, also at baseline and 6 weeks.

“We wanted to evaluate the quality of life from multiple vantage points, therefore we utilized 4 different quality of life questionaries,” Kaushik mentioned. Self-reported outcomes were assessed by the Expanded Prostate Index Composite (EPIC), Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Prostate (FACT-P), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-F) and Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ).

The study consisted of 30 men who were newly diagnosed with localized prostate cancer and scheduled for a radical prostatectomy. Patients were randomized to either yoga (n = 15) or standard of care (n = 15). And patients in the yoga group, performed the activity for 60 minutes twice a week for 6 weeks before their prostatectomy and 3 to 6 weeks after.

Yoga “meaningfully” improved EPIC-sexual scores, FACIT-F, FACT general and FACT-P. In substratification, there were improvements in sexual, physical, and social well-being in the yoga group.

Additionally, participants in the yoga group demonstrated increased numbers of CD4+ (P = .007) and CD8+ (P = .004) T-cells.

There was also an increase in the natural killer cells IFNNK (P = .026) and CD+16 (P = .041), “indicating a robust immune response,” Kaushik added.

Yoga also had an enhanced effect on antitumor activity, decreasing the numbers of regulator T-cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells: CD11b+CD33+ (P = .002), CD15-CD14+CD33 (P = .047) and Perforin+CD8+ (P = .01).

There was also a decrease in cytokine cells including, G-CSF (P = .032), which had shown to activate production endothelial cell and cytokines. Additionally, there was a decrease in MCP-1 (P = .044), which are associated with proception against dementia, and FLt-3L (P = .053) which has been linked to reducing chronic inflation, Kaushik mentioned.

The benefits demonstrated in this study require further investigation, the authors concluded in the abstract.


1. Kaushik D, Shah P, Mukherjee N, et al. A phase 2 randomized clinical trial of yoga in men with prostate cancer. Presented at: 2021 American Urological Association Annual Meeting; September 10-13, 2021; virtual. Abstract LBA02-03

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