Men with prostate cancer can benefit immensely from playing football as the game improves strength in such patients, a new study finds

With the FIFA World Cup 2014 underway, football fever is in the air. A new study conducted on the game found that prostate cancer patients can benefit immensely from playing football.

The study was divided into two parts and conducted on 57 men aged an average of 67 years. The first outlined how playing 1-hour of football twice a week for 12 weeks can increase muscle mass and muscle strength in men with prostate cancer. The second looked into how playing the game helps such patients regain pride in their bodies, develop mutual concerns and develop team spirit. This acts like motivation to many of them.

"This is the first study of its kind in the world, and the results clearly show the potential of recreational football in the rehabilitation of prostate cancer patients," said project leader Julie Midtgaard, a psychologist at The Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet, in a press statement. "Just 12 weeks of football training resulted in the men regaining control and developing a unique exchange of feelings and recognition centered around the sport."

The games provides a great way for men with prostate cancer to make new friends and feel good about themselves instead of just acting like sick patients. It also eliminates the need for androgen deprivation therapy to some extent. Prostate cancer patients undergo this therapy to curb the growth of the cancer. This is done by reducing the levels of male hormones called androgens in the body and preventing them from reaching prostate cancer cells. The side effects of this therapy reduced muscle mass, higher fat percentage and reduced physical activity. Playing football increases muscle mass by half a kilo. It also increases muscle strength by 15 percent.

"The study indicates that men with prostate cancer benefit greatly from recreational football, both physically and mentally. It has also proved to be easy to keep the men involved in physical activity once they have started playing football, the study authors continued. "They look forward to going to training and enjoy it tremendously when they get there. The next step is to evaluate the effectiveness of football in a more natural setting. Therefore we are delighted that we have received the necessary funding to pursue an even bigger project in collaboration with the Danish Football Association in which more than 300 prostate cancer patients will be invited to play football in local football clubs in Denmark."

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States, apart from non-melanoma skin cancer. It is also the  leading causes of cancer death among men of all races and Hispanic origin populations. According to statistics from the National Cancer Institute, 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2014, leading to 29,480 deaths.

The study was supported by TrygFonden and The Centre for Integrated Rehabilitation of Cancer Patients funded by the Danish Cancer Society and The Novo Nordisk Foundation. Findings were published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science.