Recent studies have concerned some men who take fish oil that it could be negatively impacting their prostate health. Here, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog talks about the study and why it is not a good indicator of the real connection between fish oil and prostate health.
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.
Every man is unique, but there are a few common concerns that span lifestyles and generations. Sarah Cook, naturopathic doctor at our Los Gatos, Calif., store explores some universal issues--and offers some helpful suggestions--to help keep you or the man in your life on track.
Men's Supplement All-Stars
Can help.* Zinc Fish Oils L-Arginine Saw Palmetto CoQ10 Improve athletic performance Support fertility Combat inflammation Lower cholesterol Lower blood pressure Reduce risk of heart disease Prevent prostate problems Improve immune function
About the All-Stars
Zinc is an antioxidant mineral that concentrates in the male prostate. Zinc supports male fertility by improving sperm count and quality, improving immune function and increasing a man's resistance to urinary tract infections and prostatitis. Zinc also improves muscle strength and athletic performance.
One to try: Pharmaca Zinc Citrate
Fish oils provide essential omega-3 fatty acids that both combat inflammation and reduce risk factors for heart disease. Fish oils, especially from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring, may be helpful in lowering triglyceride levels, blood pressure and improving glucose tolerance.
One to try: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
L-arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that's used by the body to make creatine, an energy source for muscles-one reason it may improve athletic performance. The body also uses L-arginine to make nitric oxide, causing blood vessels to dilate and aiding conditions such as chest pain, clogged arteries, heart disease, erectile dysfunction and headaches. (A word of caution: L-arginine may reactivate the herpes virus in those already affected.)
One to try: Bluebonnet L-Arginine
Saw palmetto is the leading natural treatment for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate gland that puts pressure on the urethra and therefore increases the need to urinate. Saw Palmetto works by reducing the size of the prostate, and can be taken by any man interested in supporting prostate health. Look for saw palmetto supplements that contain 80-95% fatty acids.
One to try: Gaia Herbs Liquid Phyto-Caps Saw Palmetto Berry
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
There's evidence that CoQ10, a powerful antioxidant, may improve athletic performance, decrease blood pressure, improve male fertility and reduce PSA levels, a marker for prostate cancer. Also, it's important to know that statins deplete CoQ10, so any man on cholesterol-lowering medications should consider taking extra CoQ10.
One to try: Jarrow's Q-Absorb