Loss of Muscle or Bone Mass

Testosterone is a very important hormone in the male body. It helps keep bones strong and maintain muscle mass. Naturally, with age, men lose bone and muscle mass partially due to a decrease in testosterone levels in the body. In addition to the aging process, prostate cancer patients who undergo certain treatments such as Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) are at a greater risk of losing muscle and bone mass leading to diseases such as osteoporosis.  This is because ADT blocks the production or effects of testosterone and other male hormones.  

It is important to talk to your doctor about loss of bone or muscle mass especially if you are at high risk. As mentioned earlier, loss of bone mass can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is usually diagnosed by bone density scan and x-rays, and confirmed by blood and/or urine tests. Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoporosis but the good news is there are steps to help prevent or slow bone loss.
  • Be physically active- ensure you get some physical activity daily. Weight bearing activities such as walking, dancing, lifting weights are particularly beneficial in maintaining muscle and bone health.  Consult with your healthcare team before engaging in any physical activity to make sure it is safe to do so.
  • Maintain a healthy diet- a healthy nutritional diet high in calcium and vitamin D is important to keep bones and muscles strong. Calcium and vitamin D are found in foods such as oily fish and milk products. Talk to your doctor about how much you should be getting daily and whether you need calcium and vitamin D supplements to boost your intake.
  • Quit smoking- smoking can increase your risk of losing bone mass and developing osteoporosis.  Smoking also compromises your ability to be physically active. Talk to your doctor about quitting smoking and what programs are available to help you.
  • Limit alcohol use- similar to smoking, too much alcohol can increase your risk of losing bone mass and developing osteoporosis.
  • Medication-there are certain medications that decrease bone loss and increase bone strength. Talk to you doctor if this option is right for you.
 
For additional information about managing muscle and bone loss with diet and exercise, view, download or order the Nutrition Guide for Men with Prostate Cancer.
 
Key References

Canadian Cancer Society, 2016. Osteoporosis. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/diagnosis-and-treatment/managing-side-effects/osteoporosis/?region=bc on October 28, 2016.

University of Rochester Medical Center-Health Encyclopedia, 2016. Osteoporosis in Men with Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=34&ContentID=26578-1 on October 28, 2016.



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