By Dr. Brad Jacobs, MD, Chair of Pharmaca’s Integrative Health Advisory Board
Prostate cancer is a real concern—in the US, 230,000 men are diagnosed each year, and 30,000 die from this condition. Here are my recommendations for keeping yourself healthy.
As you may know, the US Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended against routine screening for prostate cancer using the PSA test because the benefits were limited and the harms associated with screening (via biopsy) were significant. The task force found that 10-14 years after screening, the benefits were small, and the harms included pain, fever, bleeding, infection and transient urinary difficulties. As such, they concluded against routine screening. However, I recommend a PSA blood test screening for those at increased risk, including those with a family member with prostate cancer or of African-American descent.
Obesity is associated with more aggressive prostate cancer. To reduce your risk for developing prostate cancer, I recommend exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in stress management techniques and modifying your diet.
Specifically, I recommend reducing your animal protein, saturated fat and dairy intake, eating more plants, tomatoes, fish and soy, and drinking more green tea. Recent research by Dr. Dean Ornish at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute suggests that lifestyle changes like this can slow progression of disease—as measured by your PSA score—as well as activate health-promoting genes and turn off cancer-promoting genes.
In addition to lifestyle changes, recommended supplements include vitamin D (2,000 IU daily), fish oil (1,000 mg omega-3s daily), lycopene (30 mg daily) and pomegranate extract. I would avoid using supplements containing vitamin E, copper and zinc, as studies have shown that these can increase people’s risk for developing prostate cancer.
Enlarged Prostate (BPH)
More than 90 percent of men over the age of 70 experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate. To determine if you have an enlarged prostate, use the American Urological Association’s BPH questionnaire.
In addition, here are some good dietary supplements to consider that can help ease symptoms of an enlarged prostate:
- Pygeum Africanum, 50 mg twice daily (standardized to 13% total sterols or 14% triterpenes with 0.5% n-docosanol).
- Saw Palmetto, 160 mg twice daily (standardized 85-95% extract sterols and fatty acids)
- Beta-sitosterol, 20 mg beta-sitosterol and 0.2 mg beta-sitosterol glucoside three times daily (find it in Natural Factors’ Cholesterol Formula).
- Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), 300 mg twice daily
- New Chapter’s Prostate 5LX is a good combination formula that includes both saw palmetto and stinging nettle, as well other prostate-supporting herbs.
Talk to a Pharmaca practitioner about other ways to support your prostate health.