by Lynn Hinderliter CN, LDN

Be aware, though, that Doctors themselves are becoming increasingly confused about how to diagnose and treat prostate problems/cancer: 

It used to be that a PSA above 4 meant danger, and under 4, that you had nothing to worry about.  A study from Texas by Dr. Thompson in the New England Journal of Medicine, May 2004, reveals that this is not the case, but that 15% of men with lower than 4 PSA levels develop cancer, and 25% of those men have the more aggressive form.  Read a report at problem now is that this makes the PSA test virtually useless, and it is impossible to tell how many years before a meaningful replacement will be devised.

Dr. Douglass, of the “DAILY DOSE”, puts it this way:Dutch and Swedish researchers found that even though more frequent screening increased the number of tumors detected, it failed to reduce the number of AGGRESSIVE TUMORS that appeared between screenings.Researchers followed two groups of men between the ages of 55 and 65 years old for 10 years. The first group (4,000 men) was tested every two years, and the seond group (13,000 men) was tested every four years. As you would imagine, more tumors were found among the group that was tested more frequently — 13 percent verses 8 percent.But here’s the catch: There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups of men in the number of aggressive tumors that formed between screenings. The researchers said, “More screening did not cut the number of these cancer cases as one might have expected.”

That’s been my point all along. As we age, it’s perfectly normal to develop small tumors in our prostates. It’s when you start messing with them that you stir up a hornet’s nest. But it’s the AGGRESSIVE TUMORS that’ll kill you — whether you get a routine PSA or not.

The lead researcher of the study, Monique Roobol, said, “We here in Europe feel that over- diagnosis and over-treatment is certainly something you should avoid.” That’s a not-so-subtle and all-too-deserved slap in the face to the medical commn ity on this side of the pond. And, as you know, I couldn’t agree more.

Because there is also no way at the moment to tell the difference between a cancer that could kill you in 6 months, and one that will develop slowly over 10 years, there are some Doctors who feel that many men are receiving unnecessarily aggressive treatment. (,11381,1224673,00.html)

There are some interesting theories as to why this scourge is on the increase: some researchers are seeing a connection between prostate problems and estrogen-like compounds in pesticides, and experiments with animals fed hormone containing diets confirm this as a possibility. Recent studies (see RESOURCES at bottom)  confirm that a common organochlorine contaminant hexachlorobenzene (HCB) disrupts normal development of the male reproductive tract by interfering with normal hormonal action. Many other contaminants share the same mechanisms of action of HCB and thus are also implicated by these results.

A 2005 study found a direct causal link between Omega 6 fatty acids in corn oil and Prostate cancer.  The study author comments, that as the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 has changed from app. 1:2 in the ’40s to 25:1 now, so has the rate of Prostate cancer risen. (My emphasis)

Physical activity also seems to play a part: never before in human history have so many men spent so much time sitting on their prostates!  High cholesterol is also a culprit, as by-products of cholesterol have been shown to accumulate in prostate tissues affected with Benign Prostate Hypertrophy and cancer. It should be a goal to keep cholesterol levels low, and HDL levels high – another reason to exercise and  keep fit!

There is a connection between drinking milk and prostate cancer – and the worst offender is low fat milk,  as researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia) discovered. Men who reported the highest intake of low-fat milk were 1.5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men who had the lowest intake, but whole milk intake was NOT found to be linked to increased risk.

Now it appears that whole fat milk is not only not connected to increased risk, but is found to reduce risk.

Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer

Effect of food composition on human absorption of Vitamin K

Even better would be whole, RAW milk – got REAL milk?

The mechanism appears to be activation of IGF1 (, which has an advers effect on prostate epithelial cells.  Co-incidentally, there is some research suggesting that the use of rBGH – (a hormone added to feed to make cows produce more milk) elevates IGF1 levels.  Perhaps these levels are concentrated in low fat milk?

 Much research has focused over the years on the role of Vitamin E in the prevention of prostate cancer:  While mega-analysis of all studies showed conclusively that it did help, no-one knew why it seemed to help when other anti-oxidants didn’t.  Now, new research has given us a rationale:  the authors of the current study report that vitamin E inhibits the expression in prostate cancer cells of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein that is often elevated in the disease and used as a marker for early detection. The investigators also note in the May 28th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the vitamin can prevent cells from making Androgen Receptors. In an interview with Reuters Health, Dr. Messing said he suspects the benefits of vitamin E stem from its interference with AR production. “The only thing we know of in 2002 that turns on PSA is an activated AR.”  Moreover, the researcher added, stopping the production of AR will halt the expression of all other genes that are activated by AR, which can also influence the development of prostate cancer.(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 28, 2002;99:7408-7413)

The American Cancer Society has this to say about Vit. E and prostate cancer: The National Cancer Institute, in conjunction with the National Public Health Institute of Finland, found that the long-term use of a moderate-dose vitamin E supplement substantially reduced prostate cancer incidence and deaths in male smokers. In men taking the vitamin E supplement, there was a reduction in clinically detectable prostate cancers beginning within two years of starting the supplement. Importantly, the supplement did not mask symptoms which would cause a man to seek medical attention which would lead to a diagnosis of cancer. Rather, men taking vitamin E had fewer diagnoses of later stage cancers than men not taking the supplement. The results of this study, although promising, do not provide definitive answers about vitamin E’s effect on prostate cancer in men of different races, ethnicities, or in nonsmokers.

Heavy beer drinkers are particularly at risk, because beer releases a substance called prolactin, which increases the gland’s uptake of testosterone, and its subsequent conversion to dihydrotestosterone. Some men say that drinking just one cold beer can definitely aggravate their symptoms almost immediately.

Diet is important in other ways, too, in that many men would benefit from determining which foods they have intolerances to, and eliminating them. 

Frequent offenders are  milk, caffeine, wine, pickles, and some spices: but any food to which you personally have an intolerance can cause inflammation that affects the prostate.

Interestingly, tomatoes contain a nutrient called Lycopene, and an inverse relationship has been shown here: the more tomato containing foods a man eats, the lower his risk of prostate cancer. This nutrient is now also available as a supplement.  Essential fatty acids also play a part in boosting the body’s production of certain prostaglandins, which regulate (among other things) uptake of testosterone in the prostate.

There is also a supplement made from cruciferous vegetables such as Broccoli, called  indole -3-carbinol which has an effect on the body’s production of toxic estrogens. Adding plenty of the such vegetables to the diet is an excellent anti-any-cancer strategy! Much has been made of blocking the effect of dihydrotestosterone by inhibiting the enzyme that produces it:  less has been made of the fact that this affects another enzyme, which allows the production of more estrogen.  

Two herbs are at the forefront of the battle against this problem: Saw Palmetto,  (Serenoa Repens),( standardized for no less than 85% free fatty acids and sterols ) is, according to Dr. Whitaker more effective than prescription meds, and certainly has fewer side-effects!   It inhibits uptake of dihydrotestosterone.  Pygeum Africanum is often combined with Saw Palmetto, and European studies leave no doubt as to its effectiveness: it appears to inhibit cholesterol uptake by the prostate.

Very recent research on Quercetin is finding it of great value in the fight against prostate cancer, possibly because of its ability to inhibit inflammation. The study was so impressive that the prestigious journal Urology published it as a matter of “high priority”.  (1999;54:960-3)  What the study found is that out of a group of 30 placebo controlled, double-blinded category 111 chronic prostatitis sufferers, those taking the Quercetin experienced improvement on the average of 40%, compared to 6% for placebo.  The symptoms for which improvement was reported were: pain, voiding dysfunction, and quality of life.  A second similar study reported 82% of the Quercetin users reported 25% or more improvement in their problems.  See RESOURCES at bottom for more.

Another helpful herb is Stinging Nettle (Urtica Dioica) an extract of which was used in a group of 50 patients with Prostatic Hyperplasia stages 1 & 2: after an average of 3.5 months, volume of residual urine, urinary volume and flow and levels of sex hormone binding globulin were significantly improved.  Combining Nettle with Saw Palmetto (Urology 2000; 55(4) 533-539) appears to be highly effective in shrinking swollen prostate tissue.

Other helpful supplements are Zinc (as either Picolinate or Monomethionine), a very special extract of bee pollen (Cernitine) , certain amino acids, and the essential fatty acids. There is also some interesting research being done on Melatonin and prostate cancer (see RESOURCES at bottom)

Just recently, a study purported to find that Zinc supplementation causes prostate cancer.  Naturally the headlines could hardly have been more alarmist.  In actual fact, the study found (I quote from WebMD, my emphasis):

Researchers found that although taking zinc supplements of up to 100 mg per day did not increase men’s overall risk of prostate cancer, men who took more than 100 mg of supplemental zinc per day were more than twice as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than nonusers.

Men who took zinc supplements for 10 or more years also were more than twice as likely to have advanced prostate cancer compared with those who didn’t take zinc supplements.

Researchers say they can’t rule out the fact that some other factor may account for the increase in advanced prostate cancer risk associated with excessive zinc supplementation found by the study. For example, heavy zinc users may have also taken high levels of other supplements that might affect the prostate, such as calcium.

In addition, because zinc has been associated with prostate health, some users may have been self-medicating longstanding prostate cancer symptoms or delayed medical care, which may have increased the risk of the cancer being found at a later, more advanced stage. But researchers say that’s unlikely because taking the men’s history of prostate cancer screening and early years of follow-up into account didn’t alter their findings.

Researcher Michael F. Leitzmann, MD, of the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues say it’s not clear how zinc may act in the body to increase prostate cancer risk, but more research to investigate this link between overuse of zinc supplements and advanced prostate cancer is needed.

Once again, moderation is the key word!

I want to bring to your attention also a compound called Modified Citrus Pectin, which has a great deal of research behind the claim that it can prevent the spread of prostate (and other) cancer.  There are long chain sugar molecules in the pectin which prevent the cancer cells from attaching themselves to other organs in the body through a reaction with a substance called galectin-3   in the cancer cell’s membrane.  Dr. Kenneth Pienta, a leader in  research on this nutraceutical, says :” to the best of our knowledge this is the first report of an oral method to prevent spontaneous cancer metastasis.”  In a recent animal study conducted by him
Pienta et al., J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 87:348-353, 1995).  The American Cancer Society posts the following information: 

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Medicine found that rats given citrus pectin—a complex, soluble polysaccharide—had a significantly slower rate of metastasis (spread of cancer cells beyond their origin) than rats in a control group who were not given citrus pectin. The same effect did not occur with unmodified pectin or from eating citrus fruits. Clinical trials on human subjects will be needed to determine whether or not citrus pectin has the same effect on people with prostate and other cancers.

Last but not least, Selenium,  a mineral which has shown promise in preventing prostate cancer. It may also have the potential to prevent recurrence in men who have been treated for prostate cancer. (Journal of Urology (Vol. 166, No. 6: 2034-2038). Results seem to be very dose specific, with amounts OVER 200 mcg possibly doing harm. Selenium levels in the blood tend to decline with age,  and researchers speculate that this may play a part in the development of prostate problems in older men.  In 2004, more studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concluded: “The new epidemiologic data on selenium from Li et al.  continue to support the initial impressions of this agent’s tremendous potential as a prostate cancer preventive agent. The emerging laboratory data greatly strengthen the biologic plausibility for this optimism and for the ongoing randomized clinical selenium trials, which ultimately will be necessary to define the potentially complex risk–benefit profile of this promising preventive agent . Meanwhile, science will continue peeling back layer after layer of the enormously deep and complex onion of selenium effects in the prostate.”;96/9/645 

Find the recommended supplements here

Selenium and Prostate Cancer studies-2004  Report;96/9/645

Contaminants and Prostate problems

Melatonin and Prostate cancer

Tomatoes and prostate cancer

Study on Lycopene and prostate cancer currently recruiting patients

Anti-tumor activity of Indole 3- Carbinol

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