If you've got a diagnosis that requires ongoing medical monitoring, lifestyle factors can influence your test results — both positively and negatively. If your doctor is monitoring your PSA (prostate-specific antigen ) levels, it's important to know the impact of exercise on PSA testing.
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According to the Mayo Clinic, a PSA test primarily screens for prostate cancer, but other conditions and everyday activities can also influence PSA levels. Educate yourself about things to avoid prior to a PSA test to ensure the most accurate results.
Talk to your doctor if you have elevated PSA levels. Although it can be a sign of a medical condition, it doesn't automatically mean you have cancer.
Read more: Foods to Avoid Before Having a Blood Test
Exercise and PSA
According to the American Cancer Society, many factors can affect PSA levels — and exercise is one of them. In particular, riding a bicycle could increase PSA levels due to direct pressure on the prostate, but the results of research have not been consistent.
A study published in February 2011 by Der Urologe examined the impact of treadmill and cycling exercise on the PSA levels in 21 males. Both types of exercise elevated PSA levels, although cycling had a bigger effect than the treadmill.
Some research suggests that only vigorous exercise activities increase PSA levels. However, an older study published in March 2003 by Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine tested this theory. Results showed that although there were elevated PSA levels in two out of 21 runners after completing a marathon, the results were not statistically significant.
However, the authors also acknowledged that the study had a small sample size and only tested males who were 53 years of age or younger.
Increased PSA levels can also occur from noncancerous conditions affecting the prostate, recent ejaculation, male hormone supplements or advancing age. PSA levels can also be lowered by certain medications, dietary supplements and obesity. Artificial lowering of PSA levels could possibly prevent detection of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Read more: Fasting Blood Test Requirements
Follow These Testing Guidelines
As the American Cancer Society points out, PSA testing isn't 100 percent accurate — you can have normal results and still have cancer, or have positive results and not have cancer. An elevated PSA level can also indicate that your prostate is inflamed, or it can be a sign of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, as explained by the Mayo Clinic.
Following specific guidelines when prepping for a PSA test can contribute to an accurate reading. According to Harvard Health Publishing, you do not need to fast prior to having your blood drawn for this test.
However, ejaculation can temporarily boost PSA levels, and it's one of the things to avoid prior to a PSA test. It's recommended that testing be performed after at least 48 hours of abstinence.
Talk to your doctor if you have a urinary tract infection or other urinary issues — these conditions can raise PSA levels significantly.
Although the impact of exercise on PSA levels remains unclear, avoid exercise for at least 24 hours prior to your blood test, and inform your doctor of any recent physical activities that could affect your results.
- Mayo Clinic: "PSA Test"
- American Cancer Society: "Prostate Cancer Prevention and Early Detection"
- Der Urologe: "Influencing of the PSA Concentration in Serum by Physical Exercise (Especially Bicycle Riding)"
- Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine: "Effect of Marathon Running on Total and Free Serum Prostate-Specific Antigen Concentrations"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "On Call: Measuring the PSA Is Fasting Necessary?"