prostate cancer

  1. Study finds link between vitamin E and prostate cancer

    Scientists from Australia found that vitamin E and prostate cancer may share a connection. Vitamin E might play a major role hampering the development and re-growth of prostate cancer tumors. For the study, Dr. Patrick Ling and a team of researchers injected mice with prostate cancer cells. Then, they divided the mice into two groups. They fed one group of mice water fortified with a form of vitamin E called gamma-tocotrienol or y-T3. The other group of mice drank regular water.

    Researchers found that 70 percent of the vitamin E mice never went on to develop prostate cancer tumors, despite being injected with malignant cells. And, yes, the remaining 30 percent did develop prostate cancer. But following surgery, their tumors were far less likely to re-grow or metastasize. On the other hand, tumors formed in 100 percent of the control group of mice not given vitamin E.

    Those incredible results, though tested on mice, show just how powerful  the relationship between vitamin E and prostate cancer really is.

    According to Dr. Ling, "Currently there is no effective treatment for metastatic prostate cancer, because it grows back after conventional therapies in more than 70 percent of cases. But with [vitamin E3] researchers have found a better way to treat prostate cancer, which has the potential to inhibit recurrence of the disease."

    Dr. Ling went on to say that chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy fail to cure prostate cancer because they don‘t kill the cancer stem cell responsible for the re-growth of tumors. He also believes that y-T3 will also prove effective in suppressing other types of cancer, including breast, colon, liver and stomach.

    Dr. Ling and his team  have a vitamin E and prostate cancer clinical trial with men in the works. I‘ll pass on the results as soon as they‘re available. In the meantime, keep up the daily regimen of 400 IU of vitamin E. Choose only 100 percent natural vitamin E that contains mixed tocopherols. This will provide provide balanced antioxidant protection. At the very least, the bottle should say it contains d-alpha or D-alpha. Skip any bottle that says it contains Dl-alpha (note the different "Dl" prefix). This means it‘s a synthetic, cheap imitation of vitamin E. Plus, it probably won‘t contain y-T3.

  2. Reduce your prostate risk with salmon

    For those men out there who don't like eating's the time to expand your horizons. Just look at what eating a little salmon did for men: It reduced their risk of aggressive prostate cancer (the kind where they cut out your prostate) by a whopping 63 percent.

    A recent study conducted at the University of California San Francisco looked at 466 men with aggressive prostate cancer and 478 men healthy men. Scientists from UCSF asked the men about the foods they ate. Then, they took samples of the patients' blood to see if they carried the COX-2 gene known to increase prostate cancer risk.

    They found that men who carried the gene and had low levels of omega-3s had a five-fold increased risk of getting prostate cancer. On the other had, the men with the highest levels of the omega-3s in their blood reduced their risk of getting cancer by 63 percent. And their risk diminished even if they carried the COX-2 gene!

    The researchers noted the men who ate dark, oily fish – such as salmon – got the biggest boost. What's most shocking is that just a little bit of salmon did the trick. In fact, the men who got the most protection ate salmon just one to three times per week.

    It can be hard to find fresh wild-caught salmon year round. So check your grocer's freezer section. My store carries a whole section of frozen wild-caught fish. Maybe yours does too. Check it out!

  3. Just say NO to PSA screening

    Lots of men out there think they're taking care of themselves by getting an annual PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test and DRE (digital rectal exam) to screen for prostate cancer. But over the last 10 years, lots of MDs have raised questions about the effectiveness of these tests. Do they really work? Do they save lives or subject men to needless biopsies that can cause sexual impairment and incontinence? You see, lots of men get prostate cancer but don't have a high PSA number. And lots of men who experience spikes in their PSA numbers, don't really have cancer. The DRE is just as unreliable. Well -- a few months back scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine confirmed just as much. Their results -- published in the New England Journal of Medicine -- were so striking, I'm hoping all the urologists out there will finally get their heads out of the sand and throw out their PSA/DRE testing once and for all. WU scientists followed 76,000 men who received annual PSA and DRE testing between 1993 and 2001. (Data came from the US Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.) The scientists followed up with the men seven years later. And what did they discover? They found that regular screening did turn up more cases of prostate cancer, but it did very little to reduce deaths from prostate cancer. In fact, according to senior study author Christine Berg, M.D., "There are men today who were diagnosed with prostate cancer, who now suffer from the side effects of treatment, and who would never have suffered from ill health or may have never died of the disease in the first place." Wow -- if that's not an unequivocal bashing of regular screening for prostate cancer, I don't know what is! Well -- fellas -- since regular screening isn't very useful, what's my suggestion? Keep up your overall health. Maintain a healthy weight. Go for a clean diet filled with fruits and vegetables. Take your daily multivitamins. And, of course, make sure to get plenty of natural (not synthetic) vitamin A!
  4. The Vitamin A Secret Known for 30 Years

    Every man I know worries about getting prostate cancer. And that's understandable. According to the National Cancer Institute, it's the second most common cancer among men. Almost 200,000 men this year alone will learn they have prostate cancer. And nearly 30,000 men a year will die of it. In most men with prostate cancer, the disease progresses very slowly. Watchful waiting is often the prescribed treatment. But in some men, the disease is much more aggressive. Treatment options for this group -- ranging from radical prostatectomy to radiation therapy -- often come with life-changing side effects which can include incontinence and sexual impairment. Even with so-called "nerve-sparing" techniques commonly used today, up to 60 percent of men will experience devastating sexual problems following their prostatectomy. Wouldn't it be great to avoid prostate cancer all together? That's why a new study out this month caught my attention. Scientists found that a man's vitamin A intake may play a role in preventing the aggressive type of prostate cancer that's often treated by removing the prostate gland. In this study, scientists looked at levels of retinol (an active form of vitamin A found in the blood) in 692 men who had prostate cancer and compared it to 844 men who didn't have the disease. While high concentrations of retinol didn't reduce a man's overall risk of developing prostate cancer, it did provide protection against the deadliest forms of the disease. In fact, the men with the highest concentrations of retinol in their blood had a 42 percent reduced risk of "aggressive prostate cancer" compared to the subjects with the lowest levels of retinol in their blood. Translation? Well, the men with the most vitamin A were 42 percent less likely to suffer from really aggressive prostate cancer. And that's huge, especially when you consider the type of treatment you're often facing when they discover your cancer is a fast-growing type. Interestingly, the study authors wrapped up their conclusions with this statement: "Our results suggest that higher circulating concentrations of retinol are associated with a decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Further research is needed to better understand the significance of elevations in serum retinol concentrations and the possible biological mechanisms through which retinol affects prostate cancer." Why scientists don't make good historians Of course, I had to laugh when I read this. The authors made it sound like they are the first to ever determine that vitamin A can reduce a man's risk of getting prostate cancer. The truth is, we've known for at least 30 years (maybe even 80 years) that vitamin A can be a man's best friend in preventing prostate cancer. According to Robert E. Willner, M.D., Ph.D. in his authoritative book The Cancer Solution, "Shortly after its discovery in 1922, Vitamin A was found to be effective in the prevention of cancer." Dr. Willner also reminds us of a massive vitamin A study conducted in 1974 by the National Cancer Institute. Scientists followed 25,000 men over the age of 50 for ten years to see if they developed prostate cancer. (Yes…25,000 men! That's a huge study with results you just can't ignore.) Surprise, surprise... they found a direct correlation between vitamin A intake and prostate cancer. In fact, the scientists at the NCI confirmed that the lower the level of vitamin A in the blood, the higher the risk of prostate cancer. And that was more than 30 years ago! Isn't anyone listening? In 1974 scientists knew that low vitamin A could put you at risk for prostate cancer. But this month scientists put out a study that "suggests" a connection between vitamin A and cancer? So what gives? Why isn't anyone listening? How many times do we need to turn up the same results before someone starts to listen? Heck, 2,000 years ago Hippocrates said: "Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food." If we all just followed his advice, there certainly would be fewer cases of prostate cancer today. Urologists should be handing out vitamin A, well, like candy! In any case, to get more vitamin A in your diet (and you should if you're a man who'd like to lower his risk of prostate cancer and possible prostatectomy), here are some good food sources:
    • Carrots (keep a cup of them out on your countertop; fill the bottom with a ½ inch of water to keep them fresh)
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Beef & chicken (another reason to keep some organic meat and poultry in your diet)
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Cantaloupe
    • Winter squash
    • Egg yolks
    Supplementing safely with Vitamin A Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and protects your cells against abnormalities. There are four things to be aware of when supplementing with vitamin A. First, you can technically get too much, though it's very rare. The symptoms of excess vitamin A aren't hard to spot: dry hair, headaches, etc. But I've found if you're supplementing with vitamin A in conjunction with vitamin C (at least 1,000 mgs 2x per day), you won't run into any problems. Secondly, beware of synthetic vitamin A. All the hype about vitamin A toxicity was due to synthetic A, which you should never take. Also, don't assume beta-carotene is the same as vitamin A. Go for natural fish oil vitamin A. Thirdly, the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A is too low, in my opinion. Many good supplements will include 10,000 IUs of A. But that's probably not enough if you're looking to treat a specific problem. Believe it or not, the starting threshold for the therapeutic use of vitamin A for acne, for example, is 50,000 IUs daily. (I usually recommend trying 100,000 IU for two to three months and if the acne improves, go lower.) Some practitioners who use vitamin A therapy with their cancer patients prescribe in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 IU per day (yep, a million). Lastly, there is a definite risk of birth defects due to high-dose A use during conception and the first trimester. So if you're a young woman of childbearing years, I would recommend exercising caution and, of course, working closely with your obstetrician or naturopath. I take 50,000-75,000 IUs a day of vitamin A and have for decades. It's just another safeguard we as men can -- and should -- take to protect ourselves against this all too common form of cancer.
  5. What is it this time, Eddie?

    You‘ve gotta hand it to Big Pharma. They‘ve been busy in the kitchen again, cooking up yet another use for their popular statin drugs. For years, Big Pharma has been busy promoting "off label" benefits of these popular cholesterol-lowering drugs. Big Pharma wants you to know this: not only will their statin drug cut your cholesterol, but it will also improve your rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, bone mass, and Alzheimer‘s disease. Every time one of these studies comes out, it makes a big splash in the headlines: "Statin drugs prevent Alzheimers! The world is saved!" But in my opinion, these studies look like they were written by PR hacks rather than real scientists. I‘ve yet to see any real significant data supporting the claim that a statin drug does anything besides modestly lower your cholesterol. So when I read about this new statin drug study, I rolled my eyes and felt a little like Mr. Cleaver when Eddie Haskel showed up -- yet again -- at the door. What are we taking statin drugs for this time? Depression? ADHD? Prematurely graying hair? Well, before I let that surprise out of the bag, let me remind you of a thing or two about these popular cholesterol busters. Your friendly neighborhood statin drug Today, millions of Americans take cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor, Crestor, and Zocor. Yes, they lower your cholesterol. But why are we taking them? Do they significantly improve your rate of dying from heart disease or heart attack (as compared to just taking better care of yourself)? The bottom line is: no, they don‘t. In one massive study of 10,000 people, researchers compared the use of statin drugs to "usual care" in treating subjects with moderately high levels of LDL cholesterol. (Usual care meant that participants maintained a proper body weight, didn’t smoke, and regularly exercised.) The results of the study showed that participants taking statin drugs lowered their cholesterol by 28%. While the "usual care" group lowered their cholesterol by only 11%. But here‘s the kicker: both groups showed the same rates of death from heart attack and heart disease. So -- yes -- statins can lower your cholesterol. But they don‘t work any better than "usual care" in preventing deaths from heart attack or heart disease. And given the slew of side effects associated with statin drug use -- including muscle pain, liver damage, neuropathy, memory loss, nausea, and difficulty sleeping -- you‘re much better off hitting the treadmill for 10 minutes a day and cutting out the fried chicken! For the record, 1 + 1 does not equal 3 It‘s my belief that -- in most cases -- if you are following healthy eating habits, you shouldn‘t worry too much about your cholesterol. In fact, we all need a certain amount of cholesterol to function. Each and every cell in our body contains cholesterol. It helps maintain proper digestion, blood sugar, hormonal balance, and neurological function. Cholesterol also helps the body repair itself. In fact, scar tissue cells contain high amounts of cholesterol. Plus -- lots of scientists believe high cholesterol doesn‘t increase your risk of dying from a heart attack (likewise, low cholesterol doesn’t protect you from suffering a heart attack). In fact, in one important study, scientists found that roughly 50 percent of all heart attack patients have what are considered to be normal, healthy cholesterol levels. So why are we trying so feverishly to lower our cholesterol, if it‘s not protecting us from heart attacks? Well, that question seems to keep the Big Pharma execs up at night. So -- as I said earlier -- they‘ve been busy in the kitchen cooking up other uses. Going after what keeps men up at night The new studies out on statin drugs involve prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction, two worries men often have as they get older. (As men over 50 are the prime candidates for statin drugs, why does this new study not surprise me?) In this study, researchers looked at data over the last 15 years for 2,447 men ages 40 to 79. They discovered that men taking statin drugs were less likely to develop prostate cancer, compared to men who did not take statins. Men taking statin drugs for nine years were also less likely to have erectile dysfunction. But men who had been taking the drugs for fewer than three years didn‘t experience a decreased risk of suffering from ED. There are a few of problems I have with this study. First of all, 2,447 men is hardly a large sampling. (Sure, I’ve cited smaller studies on certain vitamins to prove a point. But when you‘re talking about prescription drugs, with serious side effects, a large and diverse sampling is a must. Show me a study of 10,000 men, like the one mentioned earlier, and you‘ve got my attention.) The study was not placebo controlled, meaning they didn‘t compare results of men taking statins versus men taking a placebo (or sugar pill). Again, it‘s a basic parameter I‘m looking for in any prescription drug study. Plus -- all the men were white and living in Olmsted County, Minnesota. For Pete‘s sake, you can‘t draw any significant conclusions if all the men come from the same darn county! There might be something else underlying here that we don‘t know about that‘s making their prostate cancer rates go down. Maybe everyone in this county drinks green tea. Who knows? It’s possible! And that‘s why you need a diverse sampling. The last problem I have with this study is a big one. It was funded, in part, by Merck Pharmaceuticals. When you see a study that‘s funded by a pharmaceutical company, you might as well just flush it. Do you suspect that they set out to prove that statin drugs prevent prostate cancer and ED? Numbers can be finessed to say a lot of different things. Take the reigns To wrap up, let me just say that there is plenty you can do to prevent a heart attack without resorting to long-term statin drug use. If you really want to cut your risk, the first step is to stop smoking (if you smoke). The second step is to get your diet in order. Cutting out processed and fried foods is a must. The third step is to get moving. Even a 10 minute walk three times a week is a move in the right direction. Lastly, begin to add a few important nutrients to your regimen. Here‘s what I recommend to help keep your ticker strong: 1. Add L-Carnitine: 1,000 mg 2. Coenzyme Q10: 100 mg 3. Magnesium: 500 to 800 mg 4. Vitamin E: 400 to 800 IU (as mixed tocopherols) As always, work with a trusted doctor or naturopath. These guidelines can and should be tailored to fit your individual needs.

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