Over the course of a lifetime, one man in six eventually will be diagnosed with prostate cancer...one in 35 will die from it. The treatment path for prostate cancer is seldom clear. Even conventional doctors who specialize in prostate cancer frequently disagree about the best course of action.
Surgery to remove the prostate gland is often recommended, yet it can have onerous side effects—including incontinence and lifelong erectile dysfunction. What's more, statistics show that surgery does not necessarily increase a man's life span.
For these reasons, many doctors now recommend a "watch and wait" approach in certain cases rather than surgery. Prostate cancer usually is slow-growing. The older a man is, the more likely he is to die of some other condition before his prostate cancer becomes a real threat.
The holistic view: For prostate cancer patients age 65 and older, as well as for some younger men whose cancer does not appear to be fast-growing, I support the decision to watch and wait. But, instead of waiting passively while doing nothing, I recommend a proactive approach using natural therapies that may slow or halt cancer growth or even cause the cancer to diminish.
Unless noted otherwise, all supplements described below are available at health food stores, generally are safe to take indefinitely and cause no side effects.
Important: It is vital that men who have prostate cancer be monitored by an oncologist. Show your doctor this article, and discuss your desire to incorporate these natural therapies.
Cutting-Edge Prostate Care
Aaron E. Katz, MD, associate professor of clinical urology and director of the Center of Holistic Urology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, is heading the research on two new supplements that are showing promise in the fight against prostate cancer. Studies are still in progress. Here is what we know so far…
- Zyflamend. This unique formula from New Chapter (800-543-7279, www.newchapter com) combines phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals) with herbal extracts from turmeric, ginger, green tea, rosemary, bu zhang (Japanese knotweed), Chinese goldthread, barberry, oregano, baikal skullcap and holy basil.
Dr. Katz's laboratory study found that Zyflamend reduced prostate cancer cell proliferation by up to 78% and may even have killed some existing prostate cancer cells.
Dr. Katz's team is now analyzing results of a clinical trial of Zyflamend among men at high risk for prostate cancer. The trial included 23 men, ages 46 to 75, who were diagnosed via biopsy with a type of precancerous cell proliferation called high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN)—a marker suggesting an 80% chance that cancer will develop within 10 years. The men also had elevated levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA)—a substance produced by prostate gland cells and often elevated when cancer exists. After 18 months on Zyflamend, blood tests and biopsies then showed…
- The PIN disappeared in 62% of patients
- Half of the men had decreases in PSA levels—some by more than 50%-indicating a return to more normal prostate cell activity.
- For all of the nine patients who did develop cancer, the disease was the slow-growing type and confined to a small area.
If you are at risk: Based on the evidence that Zyflamend can reverse PIN and reduce PSA, I recommend taking three Zyflamend capsules daily (with meals to avoid gastric upset), continuing indefinitely, if you have any of the following…
- An enlarged prostate (identified by a doctor)
- Any abnormal prostate PIN
- PSA that is elevated for your age. PSA is considered elevated if it is at or above 25 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) in your 40s...35 ng ml in your 50s...45 ng/ml in your 60s...or 65 ng/ml in your 70s.
- An ultrasound or other imaging test showing prostate lesions
- One or more immediate family members with a history of prostate cancer, if you are over age 50.
If you have high-grade PIN or prostate cancer: In addition to taking Zyflamend, consider taking a second new supplement, Prostabel, described below...
- Prostabel. Available on-line from Natural Source International (888-308-7066, www. natural-source.com.
Dr. Katz's team at Columbia is now conducting a clinical trial on Prostabel. The study currently has 25 men, ages 40 to 75, with negative biopsy reports but elevated PSA levels. Participants were assigned to take from two to eight capsules of Prostabel daily for 12 months.
Findings are preliminary—eight men have completed the 12-month course of treatment to date. Prostabel significantly lowered PSA in five of the eight men. While four of the men have developed cancer, their cancers are small and slow-growing. Researchers are waiting to see if Prostabel suppresses cancer cell growth in the remaining 17 participants. Just one patient, who was on the highest dosage, developed liver enzyme problems as a side effect.
Surprising: Patients experienced significant improvements in urination problems common among older men, such as frequent need to urinate and slowed stream.
Recommended dosage: Three Prostabel capsules daily. Take on an empty stomach to maximize absorption. If it causes digestive upset, take with meals instead.
More Cancer Fighters
In addition to taking Zyflamend and/or Prostabel, I recommend that men who have had a diagnosis of prostate cancer take all of the following, continuing indefinitely…
Caution: Check with your doctor before taking zinc if you are undergoing chemotherapy-zinc may not be compatible with some chemotherapy drugs.
- Copper. Long-term zinc supplementation can lead to a copper deficiency, so also take 2 mg of copper daily.
- Selenium. 200 micrograms (mcg) daily.
Note: Although evidence is not conclusive, selenium has been linked to increased risk for diabetes—so have your blood sugar monitored regularly
- Vitamin E. 200 international units (1) daily of "mixed" vitamin E (as indicated on label).
- Calcium limit. Take no more than 500 mg daily. Some evidence links high doses to increased prostate cancer risk.
Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and who want a more aggressive approach can add the following and continue taking them indefinitely…
- Indole 3-carbinol. 400 mg daily.
- Maitake mushroom extract. Use capsules or tincture labeled "standardized MD-fraction."
Take 1 mg per day for every 2.2 pounds of body weight (for instance, a 165-pound man would take 75 mg daily...a 200-pound man would take 90 mg daily). Take in two divided doses on an empty stomach.
- Beta glucan. 500 mg twice daily.
Beware! Aspirin Blocks Prostate Cancer Treatment
Men who are taking daily low-dose aspirin to head off a heart attack should stop taking it before starting hormone therapy for prostate cancer and then resume taking it after the therapy ends. For men who already have had a cardiovascular event and who are taking aspirin to prevent another one, it may be necessary to continue taking aspirin and forgo part of the hormone therapy.
Obesity May Hide Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer in obese men can be harder to detect because measurements of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) may seem normal when they aren't.
Reason: Obese men have more blood in their bodies than normal weight men—so PSA may be diluted, and a test may show PSA within normal limits. Doctors need to adjust their interpretation of PSA scores for men with high body-mass indexes.