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The prostate is a small walnut-sized gland that is involved in the production of semen. It is located below a man’s bladder. It also produces a protein called prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, small amounts of which normally circulate in a man’s blood. A PSA test measures the amount of the antigen in the blood, and an elevated PSA can indicate prostate cancer or simply an inflamed or enlarged prostate 4. Exercise, including bicycle riding, may influence the PSA level in certain cases.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
A study reported in the July 1996 “Journal of Urology” found no significant difference in PSA in most of 260 volunteers following a four-day 250-mile bike ride. However, the four men who already had elevated PSA did have a large increase after the ride. The authors recommended further study. A study appearing in the January-February 2005 issue of the “International Journal of Sports Medicine” found that PSAs did not differ between 69 professional cyclists, 31 cross-country skiers and 43 healthy but sedentary men 3. These authors hypothesized that heavy and regular exercise that involved the prostate region of the body -- such as cycling or skiing -- did not affect PSA.
- A study reported in the July 1996 “Journal of Urology” found no significant difference in PSA in most of 260 volunteers following a four-day 250-mile bike ride.
- A study appearing in the January-February 2005 issue of the “International Journal of Sports Medicine” found that PSAs did not differ between 69 professional cyclists, 31 cross-country skiers and 43 healthy but sedentary men 3.
BPH, Prostatitis and PSA
Noncancerous Reasons for an Elevated PSA Level
BPH, or benign prostatic hypertrophy, refers to an enlarged prostate gland 4. Most men will have prostate enlargement as they age and may experience urinary system effects. BPH often increases PSA levels. Bacteria, arising from any number of sources causes prostatitis, an infection of the prostate gland, which can cause PSA levels to fluctuate. Neither an enlarged prostate nor prostatitis leads to cancer 4. In 2011, a study reported in “Urologe A” found that 21 men with BPH had significant elevation of PSA after either one hour of cycling or one hour on a treadmill. The study concluded that men should not exercise, especially on a bicycle, for several days or at least 24 hours before a PSA test.
Prostate Cancer and PSA
Prostate cancer also increases PSA levels. Like BPH and prostatitis, the risk of prostate cancer increases as a man ages. The PSA test screens for cancer and can detect it in early stages, when treatment would be most effective. However, an elevated PSA is not diagnostic for cancer by itself. A doctor also performs a digital rectal exam to check for prostate pain and lumps, growths or hard areas on the prostate, but even that is not diagnostic. Only a biopsy can definitively diagnose prostate cancer. In men diagnosed with prostate cancer, follow-up PSA tests can detect cancer recurrence. In this case, it is important to refrain from activity that may falsely elevate the PSA, such as riding a bicycle.
- Prostate cancer also increases PSA levels.
- In men diagnosed with prostate cancer, follow-up PSA tests can detect cancer recurrence.
A Controversial Test
Prostate Problems & Cycling
Several activities can cause a false-positive PSA test. Activities that disturb the prostate area, such as bicycle or motorcycle riding, can result in elevated PSA levels. Digital rectal exams and prostate biopsies also increase PSA. Even experiencing an orgasm in the 24 hours before a test can elevate the PSA in the blood. In addition, though some prostate cancers progress rapidly, most grow slowly over time. Most cases occur in men over 65 years of age. Controversy comes because the cancer may not ever become a medical problem for a man that age, but the surgery and radiation therapy used to treat it can cause erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, bowel problems and even death.
- Several activities can cause a false-positive PSA test.
- Activities that disturb the prostate area, such as bicycle or motorcycle riding, can result in elevated PSA levels.
Noncancerous Reasons for an Elevated PSA Level
Prostate Problems & Cycling
Symptoms After Prostate Biopsy
Causes of Prostate Pain When Sitting
What Is a Normal PSA Level?
Age-Specific PSA Levels
How Come When I Exercise My Testicles Hurt?
Prostate Trouble and Bike Seats
Can the Prostate Be Checked With a Colonscopy?
What Is the Difference Between a Regular Mammogram & a Bilateral Mammogram?
- MayoClinic.com: PSA Test -- Definition
- “Journal of Urology”; The Effect of Bicycle Riding on Serum Prostate…; E.D. Crawford, et al.; July 1996
- “International Journal of Sports Medicine”; Total and Free PSA Serum…; G. Lippi, et al.; Jan-Feb 2005
- MedlinePlus: Enlarged Prostate
- National Cancer Institute: Understanding Prostate Changes –- A Health Guide for Men
- “Urologe A”; Influencing of the PSA Concentration in Serum By…; W. Kindermann, et al.; February 2011
- US Preventive Services Task Force, Grossman DC, Curry SJ, et al. Screening for Prostate Cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement JAMA. 2018;319:1901-1913. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.3710
- Informed Health. How does the prostate work? Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Updated August 23, 2016.
- National Cancer Institute. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Updated October 4, 2017.
- National Institute on Aging. Prostate problems. National Institutes of Health. Updated July 01, 2016.
- Elkahwaji JE. The role of inflammatory mediators in the development of prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer. Res Rep Urol. 2012;5:1-10. Published 2012 Dec 31. doi:10.2147/RRU.S23386
- Burns JA, Weiner AB, Catalona WJ, et al. Inflammatory bowel disease and the risk of prostate cancer. Eur Urol. 2019;75:846-852. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2018.11.039
- Ge Y, Shi Q, Yao W, Cheng Y, Ma G. The association between inflammatory bowel disease and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2020;23:53-58. doi:10.1038/s41391-019-0177-7
- Teerlink CC, Thibodeau SN, McDonnell SK, et al. Association analysis of 9,560 prostate cancer cases from the International Consortium of Prostate Cancer Genetics confirms the role of reported prostate cancer associated SNPs for familial disease. Hum Genet. 2014;133:347-356. doi:10.1007/s00439-013-1384-2
- Kani HT, Shen B. Male issues of the ileal pouch. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015;21(3):716-722. doi:10.1097/MIB.0000000000000226
- Jung YS, Han M, Park S, Kim WH, Cheon JH. Cancer risk in the early stages of inflammatory bowel disease in Korean patients: A nationwide population-based study. J Crohns Colitis. 2017;11:954-962. doi:10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjx040
Based in Arizona, Kira Jaines writes health/fitness and travel articles, volunteers with Learning Ally and travels throughout the Southwest. She has more than 16 years of experience in transcribing and editing medical reports. Jaines holds a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications and journalism from Northern Arizona University.