Health Alert 104
Your prostate can be a pesky little gland. It’s prone to infection, chronic enlargement and cancer. What’s worse, it lies at the base of your penis. This is a place where you don’t want problems. Today is your first in a series of Health Alerts that will help you keep your prostate healthy. In this edition, I’ll show new evidence that you can protect yourself from prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer has become the most common serious cancer in men. It claims over 200,000 American men every year. 1 Treatment usually involves surgery, radiation, or castrating drugs. Even the most radical treatment doesn’t always work. They are terribly toxic. The time to act is clearly before you get this disease.
To this end, researchers have searched for many years for a drug to prevent prostate cancer. According to a study just hitting the press, it looks like we’ve finally found it. I’ll tell you about this study. And even better, I’ll show how you can use nature to achieve the same protection.
* Drug Surprise *
You’ve probably seen the ads for the hair loss drug called Propecia. It is a brand name for finasteride. The same chemical that causes your hair to fall out provokes prostate cancer. This is the mechanism for the reduced risk of prostate cancer in the recent trial.
The New England Journal of Medicine published the ground-breaking study in its July 2003 issue. The researchers gave over 9,000 men either finasteride or a placebo for 7 years. The men who took finasteride had a 25% decreased rate of developing prostate cancer. 2
We know that finasteride inhibits an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. 5-alpha-reductase produces hormones that cause prostate cancer to grow.
But don’t run out and get a prescription for finasteride just yet. It comes with the potential for some nasty side effects. They include:
• Low sex drive
• Pain in the testes
• Breast tenderness
• Low sperm count
The New England Journal of Medicine study proves that you can prevent prostate cancer with the proper point of attack. But finasteride isn’t the only substance that blocks the action of 5-alpha-reductase. Yes, nature has alternatives with the exact same action.
* Prostate Protectors *
Beta-sitosterol is a type of oil derived from plants. It works by blocking 5-alpha-reductase from degrading testosterone. This prevents it from promoting cancer growth. It also activates a “self destruct” mechanism in prostate cancer cells. A recent study showed that beta-sitosterol prompted prostate cancer cells to die, and decrease in number. 3 You can take a pure beta-sitosterol supplement. About 200mg as a soft gel works best.
Saw palmetto has been used for prostate problems for generations. We now know that this plant’s berries are rich in natural beta-sitosterol. Saw palmetto extract also inhibited prostate cancer cell growth in lab studies.4 I recommend 300mg of saw palmetto daily. Make sure your supplement contains at least 80% standardized extract. If it is, it will have those words on the label.
Pygeum and pumpkin seeds are also rich in beta-sitosterol. Pygeum is an African evergreen. It works quite similarly to saw palmetto, although it does not have such a potent concentration of beta-sitosterol. Pumpkinseed oil is not only loaded with beta-sitosterol, it contains vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, and K. I recommend taking 200mg of each.
Lycopene is a nutrient that is highly concentrated in tomatoes. It gives the tomato that brilliant red color. Lycopene is a pigment that has evolved to protect fruits and vegetables from free radicals that would destroy them. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a compilation of 35 studies that proved this cancer reducing effect. As tomato consumption rose, prostate cancer risk fell by as much as 40%. 5 Take 10 to 20mg of a lycopene supplement per day.
Look for a prostate formula containing saw palmetto, pygeum bark, pumpkin seed extract, and lycopene so that you don’t have to take so many pills everyday. Soft gels are better absorbed and have higher amounts of active phyto-nutrients than capsules.
Al Sears MD
1 Andro M., et al. Pygeum africanum for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. A review of 25 years of published experience. Current Therapeutic Research 1995; 56(8): 796-817.
2 Thompson I., et al. The influence of finasteride on the development of prostate cancer. NEJM 2003 Jul; 349(3): 215-224
3 Von Holtz R., et al. Beta –sitosterol activates the sphingomyelin cycle and induces apoptosis in LNCaP human prostate cancer cells. Nutr Cancer 1998; 32(1): 8-12.
4 Goldmann W., et al. Saw palmetto berry extract inhibits cell growth and Cox-2 expression in prostatic cancer cells. Cell Biol Int 2001; 25(11): 1117-1124
5 Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1999; 91: 317-331.