Monday, July 6, 2009

Integrative Medicine: Reduce risk from prostate

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men, and millions of men also suffer from the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. In fact, by age 70, about 90 percent of men will have prostate enlargement. Is this an inevitable part of growing older for the male of the species?

The answer is no. Men in Asia are much less likely to develop prostatic enlargement and prostate cancer than their American counterparts. This is probably because of differences in our lifestyles, especially our diets, which are higher in fat and lower in antioxidants in the West.

So what can you or your loved ones do? Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants is probably beneficial. A recent study published in the Journal of Urology reported on the long-term follow-up of a group of men with prostate cancer who were treated with pomegranate juice.

In this study, which began in 2003, 48 men over age 60 who had been treated for localized prostate cancer were given 8 ounces of pomegranate juice to drink every day. Prior to the start of the study, these men were found to have rising PSA levels, which can indicate a recurrence of cancer.

The results of the initial study, as well as recently published follow-up data, suggested that pomegranate juice significantly reduced the rise of PSA – the men who got the juice took four times as long to double their PSA levels as expected. The limitations of this study: It was small, it did not have a control group, and mortality was not assessed.

What else can you do for prostate health?

• Eat more soy: A recent review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that regular intake of soy foods, especially non-fermented soy foods such as tofu and soy milk, resulted in a 30 percent reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.

• Get your vitamin D: Adequate vitamin D levels may help to prevent prostate cancer, and studies are also under way to look at the use of vitamin D analogs as treatments for prostate cancer. Many people are deficient in vitamin D and not aware of it. Talk to your doctor.

• Eat more plants: Men who eat diets that are low in animal fat and high in fruits and vegetables seem to be at lower risk of prostate cancer. Try cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower .

• Keep your weight normal: Several studies suggest a higher risk of prostate cancer in men with a large waist-to-hip ratio.

• Stay active: Studies suggest that vigorous exercise can help reduce prostate cancer risk.

• Consider aspirin: Regular intake of aspirin may help to prevent prostate cancer. Talk with your doctor before starting.

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