Archive - Prevention, Nutrition, & Lifestyle

Questions & Answers

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: Because of the study linking omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer, you have recommended to discontinue taking fish oil supplements and eat a balanced diet. Is this still true with men who have been undergone a radical prostatectomy?

I don’t know whether it is true; however, if omega-3 fatty acids do predispose to aggressive prostate cancer, given that every man who has had a radical prostatectomy is at some risk for cancer recurrence, it would probably be prudent not to push the omega-3 levels too high.

DIET: Are certain foods better than others to stave off prostate cancer?

The best diet is probably close to an Oriental diet. A high fat diet may increase the risk of prostate cancer. It’s best to avoid red meats and eat white meat, either fish or chicken, and lots of fruits and vegetables. For further information on this topic, I would recommend the book by NBC’s Dr. Bob Arnot, The Prostate Cancer Protection Plan: The Foods, Supplements, and Drugs That Could Save Your Life (Little, Brown).

HIGH-GRADE PIN: I have high grade PIN. My PSA declined from 5.82 to 4.03 over the last six months. I am scheduled for my third biopsy. I have increased my intake of Vitamin E, Selenium and Lypocene. I want to add soy but have been warned by a M.D. it could mask a cancer. If my third biopsy is negative should I add soy to my diet? What is a safe amount?

Soy does contain plant estrogens and thus could theoretically mask prostate cancer. Nevertheless, I do not think that it would be harmful to take soy, as long as you remain vigilant about monitoring your PSA and prostate examination. I cannot answer your question about what would be a safe amount. Vitamin E should not be taken in quantities larger than 80 units (mg), as it has not been shown to reduce cancer and may be associated with a greater risk for heart failure.

CALCIUM AND FLAXSEED OIL: Does calcium and/or flaxseed oil promote or inhibit prostate cancer growth in men?

There is mixed data. Calcium could theoretically promote prostate cancer by lowering vitamin D levels. Vitamin D has an inhibitory effect on prostate cancer. The data on flaxseed oil is very limited, and it is hard to draw a firm conclusion at this time.

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS FOR PATIENTS RECEIVING HORMONAL THERAPY: After a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer and is undergoing hormone therapy – would a change in diet and taking supplements help enhance the hormone therapy?

Yes, but the effect is small compared to the hormonal therapy, because some of the beneficial effects of “diet therapy” are brought about by changes in hormone levels.

SAW PALMETTO: I understand that saw palmetto and african pygeum are used to reduce prostate size, e.g. as a treatment for BPH, and that the mechanism is supposed to be by atrophy. Is it known how long this treatment takes to take effect, and once effective, is it necessary or even advisable to continue treatment?

There have been relatively few scientific studies performed on these “food supplements.” They are not drugs that must be studied and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. To my knowledge, the answer to your question is not definitively known. A recent randomized clinical trial has suggested that saw palmetto has no significant activity in patients with BPH.

CAN PROSTATE CANCER BE TRANSMITTED THROUGH INTERCOURSE: I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Can this be transmitted through intercourse prior to treatment.

I do not believe so. There is no evidence that cancer cells can be passed from one sexual partner to another through intercourse. In my opinion, there is little evidence that prostate cancer is caused by a virus or other infectious agent that could be transmitted through intercourse. Furthermore, I know of no recommendation that men diagnosed with prostate cancer should refrain from unprotected intercourse.

SUPPLEMENTS: I have read that there are some penis enlargement supplements that claim by creating more blood cells it also corrects erection curves like Peyronies. Is there any truth to this, or is it a waste of money?

To my knowledge, there is no scientific basis for this.

RISKS FOR THE DAUGHTERS OF PROSTATE CANCER PATIENTS: My grandfather had prostate cancer. I now have it. Research is clear on the male risks within the family. Is there any research on the risks for daughters of prostate cancer patients?

There are limited data, but it is clear that at least in some instances a certain genetic variant, if inherited, can predispose to prostate cancer in men and breast cancer or ovarian cancer in women. However, the overall risk appears to be low. More research is needed in this area.

SUPPLEMENTAL LYCOPENE PRIOR TO SURGERY Do you recommend the use of supplemental lycopene in the weeks leading up to radical prostatectomy? According to a study using a dosage of lycopene 15 mg twice a day , cancer cells were impacted in a positive way, and malignant cells were moved in from the prostate edges. Would this make it easier to get a clean surgical margin?

In my opinion, a short course of lycopene probably would not make much of a difference, but there is little down-side risk to taking it.

REDUCING PSA WITH MEDICATIONS AND SUPPLEMENTS How successful have people been in reducing their PSA with any non-invasive therapies? If they do lower the PSA, does this indicate that any possible undetected prostate cancer is in remission?

It is possible to reduce PSA levels with supplements and medications that have hormonal effects. In a sense, it does put many undetected prostate cancer into remission, but it may allow it to transform into a type of prostate cancer that is resistant to hormonal therapy and possibly more aggressive.

PROSTATE CANCER PREVENTION:Are there yet any conclusive evidence that either the SELECT trials or Acapodine should be used to reduce the chance of prostate cancer? Are there any reasons for doing the combination of brachytherapy and conformal radiation vs. radical prostatectamy?

There is no conclusive evidence at this time that anything prevents prostate cancer.

FAMILIAL PROSTATE CANCER My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 39. His brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 59. Their father died from lung cancer, but I believe he probably also had prostate cancer and it was never diagnosed. My question is about my 14 year-old son. What can we do now to prevent our son from being the next “generation” to deal with a prostate cancer diagnosis?

Hopefully, by the time your son is at risk for developing prostate cancer, genetic tests will exist for prostate cancer susceptibility and aggressiveness. The only practical strategy now is for you to read a book like Dr. Bob Arnott’s book posted on the Suggested Reading section of the website and advise your son on lifestyle and dietary practices that might reduce his risk. Also, in my opinion, it will be important for him to begin being tested with PSA and digital rectal examination of the prostate at age 35.

Has prostate cancer been linked to oral sex?

There are no studies that I am aware of that have addressed this issue.

PROPHYLACTIC PROSTATECTOMY I’m 61 with a PSA that has been running between 2.1 and 2.8 for the past 10 years. My two brothers, 66 and 65 yrs old, both have had prostatectomies in the past 16 months. One is receiving hormone therapy and the other is receiving radiation due to rising PSA’s after surgery. With my family history and my PSA levels, I’m resigned to the fact that cancer is inevitable. Would I be wise to consider a prostatectomy before cancer is found?

No, that is not done. However, if your PSA is higher than 2.5 ng/ml, I would advise you to have a prostate biopsy.

DOES FREQUENT SEX PREVENT PROSTATE CANCER Does having sex 4 or 5 times a week, keep you from getting prostrate cancer??

There is no evidence that it does, as far as I know.

Will any of these supplements – COQ10, alpha lipoic, aged garlic, quercitin, salmon oil –cause an increase in PSA readings? These are not megadoses.

Not to my knowledge.

Is there any benefit to using cox-2 inhibitor herbal supplement therapy to suppress PSA elevations post radical prostatectomy?

There might be some benefit, but it will not control a recurrence indefinitely.

Can the use of tobacco and obesity elevate the PSA level?

Not directly, but both can predispose to prostate cancer, which can elevate it.

What are your thoughts about the supplement saw palmetto? I’ve seen some research advising this supplement can help with an enlarged prostate as well as urinary incontinence and some of the very negative effects with taking prostate- related medications. However, it was also noted that saw palmetto could possibly have a negative effect relating to blood pressure. What are your thoughts about my trying this this supplement as opposed to silodosin?

There has been a prospective, randomized trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed that saw palmetto extract is not effective. Silodosin and tamsulosin are both safe and effective, although they can lower the blood pressure and cause some patients to feel lightheaded.

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