Altered stress hormone response following acute exercise during prostate cancer treatment

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2018 Aug;28(8):1925-1933. doi: 10.1111/sms.13199. Epub 2018 May 8.


Exercise training reduces the side effects of cancer treatments; however, the stress hormone response to acute exercise during prostate cancer (PCa) treatment is unclear. The study purpose was to examine the effects of acute exercise on circulating cortisol, epinephrine (Epi), and norepinephrine (NE) concentrations during PCa treatment with and without androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Men with PCa (n = 11), with PCa on ADT (n = 11), and with non-cancer controls (n = 8) had blood samples for stress hormones collected before and immediately (0 hour), 2 hours, and 24 hours after 45 minutes of intermittent cycling at 60% of peak wattage. NE increased by 385% (P < .001) at 0 hour and remained elevated at 2 hours (P < .05) with no group differences. Overall, cortisol significantly increased at 0 hour (36%, P < .012) and then significantly decreased below baseline at 2 hours (-24%, P < .001) before returning to resting levels at 24 hours. Cortisol levels during ADT were 32% lower than PCa (P = .006) with no differences vs controls. Epi increased immediately after exercise more in controls (817%, P < .001) than with ADT (700%) and PCa (333%) patients, and both cancer groups' absolute levels were attenuated relative to controls (ADT: -54%, PCa: -52%, P = .004). Compared with age-matched controls, PCa and ADT patients exhibited similar stress hormone responses with acute exercise for NE and cortisol but an attenuated EPI response that suggests altered adrenal function. Future studies should examine the physical stress of multiple exercise bouts to verify these findings and to explore the functional hormonal effects, such as immune and metabolic responses, during cancer treatment.

Keywords: acute exercise; androgen deprivation therapy; catecholamines; cortisol; stress response.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Epinephrine / blood*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / blood*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy


  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine