Dear Pharmacist: Vitamins May Reduce Risk of Prostate Cancer
Tulsa World , 06-29-05
Question: Does vitamin E help with prostate cancer? What other vitamins are helpful? -- E.D., Sacramento, Calif.
Answer: Yes, vitamin E may cut a man's risk for prostate cancer. There have been several studies over the last two decades to support the use of vitamin E in various cancers and overall general health.
Recently, a study of over 30,000 men concluded that vitamin E cut the risk of prostate cancer by about 50 percent. A study published in last March's Journal of the National Cancer Institute determined that E could reduce the "oxidative stress" or, simply put, the toxic load to the prostate, thereby reducing risk of cancer. Of course, if you intend to take vitamin E, especially high doses (800 to 1,000 IU), then you should take it with other antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin D and coenzyme Q10.
Two minerals are essential, selenium and zinc. It just so happens that the prostate gland contains hefty amounts of these nutrients. Supplementing with trace minerals such as zinc and selenium supports good prostate health. Pumpkin seeds pop into my head. They're very small, packed with minerals and great to nosh on. Oysters, known for their natural aphrodisiac properties, are loaded with minerals. As a rule, it's best to take antioxidants in groups because they work better together than alone.
Two other antioxidants deserve mention. The first is lycopene, the nutrient found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelons, and known for its ability to impart that red color. The second is vitamin A, sometimes found in the form of beta-carotene. Carrots have a lot of vitamin A.
The prostate gland is best supported with bioflavonoids. One powerful bioflavonoid is quercetin; it's a good idea to eat foods such as apples, onions, green tea and leafy vegetables. Quercetin is thought to neutralize the male sex hormones, which drive prostate cancer growth, but the form you take it in matters.
No discussion on the prostate would be complete without mention of saw palmetto. There is controversy around this herb, but many studies have shown that standardized extracts from the little palm tree are terrific for prostate health.
If you have cancer, don't take any of these nutrients without your doctor's blessings. Stick to your doctor's protocol unless he advises you to take supplements. If you take antioxidants, remember, they work best when you combine them, rather than taking high doses of an isolated nutrient. Always do your own research and get several opinions.
Did you know? If you have hives or itch, and can't find hydrocortisone, dab on some Listerine mouthwash with a cotton ball. It can temporarily relieve the maddening itch.
This information is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. To contact her, visit www.dearpharmacist.com.