Can You Prevent Prostate Cancer?

Maybe you’re like me.  You have some indications like a high PSA level, but your biopsy is negative and you have no physical symptoms.  Maybe you’re in a high risk group or just a health nut.  Is there anything you can do to prevent prostate cancer from starting?  I have searched a lot for alternatives to a biopsy.  In the process, I’ve seen a number of alternative therapies, some touted as a prevention, some as a cure and some maybe as both.

You’ll find them on a search, too.  There are books that tout special diets.  There are websites that claim their secret bio cleansing method will help.  Of course, there are herbal cures and patented mystery pills that promote prostate health.  I’m sure someone has treated prostate issues with magnets, acupuncture, chiro and almost any other therapy you can name.  For patients without prostate cancer proven by a biopsy, these remedies will work like a charm, of course, and they will proclaim they have been cured.  That’s because most of these men had only fear, not prostate cancer.  Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly and is not often very aggressive, so the purveyors of snake oil don’t take a lot of risk hawking their products without any scientific study measuring their outcomes.  Of course, those who ignore the signs and avoid proven diagnostics and treatment will only have themselves to blame if they wait too long and have their options limited as a result.

Patents, testimonials and obscure foreign studies are one thing.  Having statistically significant findings published in a peer reviewed journal are another.  That patent may prevent someone else from selling the same thing, but it doesn’t mean your product works.  That obscure study was not only flawed, it was probably financed by the those who made the product.  Do you really want to risk your life, based on the testamonial of someone who wrote something on the internet?

That’s not to say there is nothing you can do.  There have been studies showing certain dietary supplements may help.  Selenium, Vitamin E and Saw Palmetto are among them, and even have a following among some urologists.  The studies don’t seem conclusive, though, and one recent study even concluded that Selenium and Vitamin E probably had little benefit if any.  Soy, lycopene, zinc and various anti-oxidants are also offered as preventatives or cures for prostate issues, much as they are for other cancers and diseases.

One other hopeful remedy has appeared in the last year or two.  Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar).  There was a conflicting study a while back, but the most recent study dispelled some concerns.  Now, it appears some major organizations will be making guidelines that suggest certain men consider taking the drug to prevent prostate cancer.  This is the same drug that has been used for some time to treat symptoms of BPH.  As a bonus, it can help offset male pattern baldness!  It turns out not to be a coincidence.  The same substance that is involved with male pattern baldness, DHT, may also be responsible for changes in the prostate as men get older.  I’ll definitely be asking about it at my next appointment.  Two birds with one stone is always appealing.

I’m not saying that alternative treatments are useless.  Power of mind and the placebo effect can work wonders for treatments that have no proven clinical value.  Of course, the trick is avoiding treatments that have side effects, even if they don’t actually treat prostate issues.  One insidious side effect is from supplements that artificially mask your PSA level, making it impossible to track changes critical to early treatment.  Hopefully, you’re only out money if  an alternative treatment doesn’t work.  Better than snake oil, a healthy lifestyle is a good preventative for almost everything.  Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a good idea anyway, and may help prevent various types of cancer and other ailments.  I need to work on that, too.

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