Ways to prevent prostate cancer….
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Today's post: Thursday, 2-1-2007
Ways to prevent prostate cancer….
Prostate cancer shows up in the majority of men who live past age 65 or 70. And, if your father or his father had it or your brothers or theirs did, it becomes extremely likely that you will also get it.
(In my family, there is a family history as both my father & his father had it. Plus I think my other grandfather had it as well as my father’s older brother.)
The three pieces of good news are:
1. That most men get the slow growing kind which tends to grow so slowly that it can make good sense to just leave it alone.
2. That you can prevent it or delay its appearance or slow its growth. (Some of the things that do that may also reverse it in some men.)
3. If you do get the aggressive kind of prostate cancer, the preventive measures can slow it down a lot.
And, there are three new ways to treat it that look as if they may be able to treat it with 100 percent success or close to it & without extensive surgery or chemotherapy & without ruining your sex life or harming you otherwise.
(That’s extremely fortunate since few men who have had their sex lives ruined by the old techniques are happy about it; all surgery carries a risk of infection or death—even if it’s small; & chemotherapy in large enough doses to kill the cancer has a death rate also -- & recent studies say it can also cause brain damage.)
1. First, here’s why to consider leaving the slow growing kind alone unless it’s already so large it is causing real problems with your ability to urinate.
The current methods of treatment that are still most used today are in many cases much worse than the disease. (As mentioned above, the side-effects are obnoxious or worse. And the treatments have death rates associated with them.
Plus, they are NOT cheap. So using them either takes your money or helps run everyone’s health care costs up even if you are insured for 100 percent of those costs.)
As an older man, you may well die of something else before a slow growing prostate cancer will actually harm you.
You may be able to slow the progression by using the methods that prevent the cancer in the first place.
And, the longer you wait, the more likely you are to be able to get one of the newer more side-effect free treatments that may also be more successful at getting rid of ALL of it when you do get it treated.
(That said, it’s possible that in your case, it might pay you to act now. For example if you are only in your late 40’s & the cancer is a bit on the large size already or if you have an aggressive & fast growing cancer at any age, doing something right away might be very important. Don’t guess. See a doctor who is experienced & skilled in diagnosis of prostate cancers for an opinion.
But make your own decision in a different location after that & after exploring all your options.
Some doctors only trust the treatments they have already been using. And, those may not be the treatments you’d choose if you were fully informed.
Either treating it now or doing what doctors call watchful waiting instead is a trade off as neither one is perfect.
All you can do is get the best medical advice you can & decide based on your preferences & the information you have at hand. And, it may pay you to get a second or a third opinion from other doctors if you think the first one may be wrong or has missed something or just to see if the extra opinions agree with the first one.
We presented here some of the reasons it might be worth waiting; but your case might be different, so check it out before deciding.)
2. Second, here are some of the many things that tend to prevent or sharply slow down prostate cancer.:
Two were reported in the news recently.
a) Regularly eating broccoli & cooked tomatoes AT THE SAME MEAL stopped the progression of prostate cancer in men who already had it as well as total castration.
(Since prostate cancer is in part driven or powered by sexual hormones & few men like the idea of physical castration or taking the drugs that do the same thing, this is extremely significant.)
There is quite a bit more information in this post about broccoli & tomatoes as preventives also. It’s very good that this evidence seems to show that eating both together is considerably more effective than either alone.
(There are also separate studies I’ve read about that suggest eating tomatoes & broccoli at the same meal is effective against other kinds of cancers also.)
b) If you have ANY excess fat--which most of us do have, losing as few as ten pounds or so of it will reduce your risk of prostate cancer. A study on this was announced just recently. (Other studies show that just losing this much fat weight also has many other surprisingly large health benefits from lower blood pressure to lower heart attack risk.)
Fortunately, losing that small an amount of fat, if you haven’t already done so, is quite doable.
Even better, you may be one of the people that are behind the statistic that people in the United States take in 7 percent or more of their calories as soft drinks.
Or, as I was doing, you may be eating virtually NO vegetables.
So, if you either substitute water or tea or coffee that has no added sugar for ALL soft drinks (switching to diet soft drinks has proven NOT to help) OR you ADD a daily serving or two of vegetables with little or no added fat, you may find as I did that you will lose MORE than 10 pounds of fat without ever feeling hungry or eating less volume of food.)
Getting even a small amount of exercise regularly, if you haven’t been doing it, will also help you lose fat & keep it off.
And, even without losing the fat, it has been shown to have similar health benefits.
That includes a lower incidence of ALL cancers. People who exercise regularly have many fewer cancers than non-exercisers according to the studies that have been done.
c) Avoiding tobacco smoke is one of the best cancer preventive actions known.
People who don’t smoke & avoid exposure to second hand smoke have many fewer cancers of all kinds.
In fact, one doctor told me that well over half of the cancer patients, with all kinds of cancers, that he’d seen were smokers. Contrast that to the general population where only about 20 percent of the people smoke. Ouch.
And, for people who do continue to smoke, it’s imperative they NOT use cigarette lighters & use matches only. I saw statistics showing that lighter use was even more strongly related to cancers developed than just smoking. The hotter flame of the lighter apparently makes the smoke MUCH more cancer producing.
d) Eating less saturated fat & taking sterol supplements & eating soluble fiber containing foods all lower the dangerous kind of cholesterol & helps to prevent heart disease.
It also apparently slows prostate growth & may help prevent prostate cancer.
Beef fed grass ONLY; wild caught salmon & sardines; lean free range poultry; most seafood when prepared without butter; beans; eggs; & lentils all are excellent protein sources that have far less saturated fat than fatty, grain-fed beef & pork & MUCH less than cheese.
Similarly extra virgin olive oil has MUCH less saturated fat than butter, cream, & cheese.
Soluble fiber is in oatmeal, beans, lentils, & vegetables. Eating these foods reduces the saturated fat you take in & helps remove it from your body.
Sterols are in nuts, some vegetables, & in the supplements Beta Sitosterol & Saw Palmetto. Not surprisingly, these two supplements are beneficial for the prostate. Eating these foods reduces the saturated fat you take in & helps remove it from your body. And, taking the sterol supplements has been proven to lower your LDL cholesterol.
There are three possible reasons for reducing saturated fat intake & keeping your LDL cholesterol low protects against prostate cancer.
Having too much LDL cholesterol or too much Oxidized LDL cholesterol may cause your body to over-produce or mis-process sex hormones.
Charring fatty meats produces some carcinogenic compounds.
And, author John Robbins found data suggesting that the highest intake of pesticides & herbicides came from eating those found in animal fats. The animals had eaten them in their feed & bioconcentrated them in their fats.
(Eating organic produce may be helpful, & very helpful in some cases of pesticide or herbicide overuse in nonorganic produce; but eating less saturated animal fat is likely even more effective in reducing your exposure.)
e) Minimize your intake of omega 6 polyunsaturated oils; & try to NEVER eat foods cooked with them.
Eat zero or close to zero refined grains & eat whole grains in moderation. And, try to avoid eating foods containing soy, corn, safflower, & cottonseed oil.
Make a special effort to NOT eat meat from animals fed grain as this increases the amount of both the Omega 6 oils & the saturated fat they contain.
Omega 6 oils reduce your beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Most people in the United States eat five to ten times too much of them.
But worst of all, omega 6 oils impair your immune system; & one article I read said there is evidence that they INCREASE the incidence of cancers.
Further, they tend to break down into even less desirable compounds when heated.
f) Here is a list of other ways to prevent cancer.
Some may fit you & some may not.
*Make sure your sleeping area is as close to totally dark as possible. Taking melatonin has a very mixed review. But doing this increases your natural output of melatonin which is protective against cancer. The reverse is true also. People who sleep in more lit up locations get more cancers. And, this may be most true for the sex related cancers like prostate cancer.
**If you have time to mess with it -- or your home is in area where it’s common, have your home tested for radon gas. You cannot sense it in any way. But it’s radioactive & known to cause cancers. And, there are ways to prevent its entry or vent it if the tests find it is present in your home.
***Get all the medical & dental x-rays you need. But avoid them as much as you can. And, try to have those tests done with the most up to date equipment that minimizes your x-ray exposure & still does a good job as a test.
****Avoid chemical air fresheners, pesticides, & herbicides in your home, yard, & garden.
Their listed ingredients are often carcinogenic. And, their so-called “inert” added ingredients, whether listed or not, often are carcinogenic also.
There are alternatives in most cases that work almost as well.
And, for herbicides & pesticides that you feel you must use, use as little as possible to get the job done; wear rubber gloves; & try to avoid breathing the fumes. Store them outside the area you live in; & wash your hands after applying them. (Also be sure to store them where small children cannot get into them.)
g) Eating foods & taking supplements that have been shown to have an antioxidant effect or to help prevent all cancers is quite doable.
Cruciferous vegetables, which, besides broccoli, include cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, & cauliflower, have vitamin C AND several kinds of phytonutrients that protect against cancers.
Animal based vitamin A in relatively small doses, 5,000 or 10,000 a day is an antioxidant that may help prevent cancer. (There have been some problems with higher doses of this form of vitamin A as it’s oil soluble & you can build up an overdose over time taking too much.)
However, plant based vitamin A & similar compounds, the carotenoids, do not have this problem as they are water based. Even better, eating the vegetables & some fruits that contain them helps you avoid excess bodyfat without hunger.
And, there is some evidence that eating a wide variety of carotenoid containing foods is the best way to boost your blood levels of them & that doing so is cancer preventive & may even help treat it.
Broccoli is in this group also! Its green color is more prominent than the orange colored carotenoids. Carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, & tomatoes are also in this group.
Even better, the main carotenoid in tomatoes is lycopene.
Lycopene taken as a 30 mg a day supplement was researched directly as having some value as a prostate cancer preventative & may even have some value as a treatment. (You can buy 10 mg capsules of lycopene & take 3 a day to get this amount. And, I’ve been doing so since I read of this research.)
This research was sparked by separate studies that showed that men who ate the most cooked tomatoes had the lowest incidence of prostate cancer.
(Eating the cooked tomatoes along with extra virgin olive oil is thought to increase your body’s ability to use the lycopene just as cooking does by making the lycopene in the tomatoes more bioavailable.
Adding onions or garlic might help prevent cancer according to some studies I’ve read about. One such study found 71 percent fewer prostate cancers in people who ate the most onions & garlic.
And, eating them definitely helps prevent heart disease & can help make the cooked tomatoes taste much better.)
V8 juice & tomato juice even work though not quite as well. (Those are much less likely to be eaten with extra virgin olive oil than cooked tomatoes. And, that combination gives you the most bioavailable lycopene & other phytonutrients.)
Other foods thought to be cancer preventive include oranges & other citrus fruits & orange juice & strawberries.
Most fruits are likely to help from their vitamin C content & their high amounts of other antioxidants. Kiwi fruit; all berries, cherries, dark blue grapes, etc are all high in vitamin C and many other phytonutrients & antioxidants.
A study was announced recently that real fruit & vegetable juices are at least as health protective in most cases as the fruits & vegetables they are taken from. This study suggests strongly that it’s the antioxidants & phytonutrients that are most protective & that the fiber is not needed for this effect. (Fiber DOES help keep your blood sugars in the desirable range & to help keep you from getting too hungry & getting fat as a result.
More importantly, the fiber may be as important as the other nutrients in the case of prostate & other sexual cancers. Eating a lot of fiber tends to reduce sex hormones levels that are too high & the blood sugar & insulin spikes eating a lot of fiber helps prevent may also prevent cancer as high insulin levels may contribute to causing cancers.)
This does suggest that drinking real fruit juice will help prevent cancers & other diseases which drinking soft drinks will NOT do. But, also eating a wide variety of whole fruit & vegetables is protective against cancer as well. Our recommendation is to do both,
Lastly, taking 1,000 mg or more of vitamin C a day is protective. I saw one study showing that it slowed the degradation of the telomeres & slowed aging substantially. And, since some cancers are caused by DNA errors in older cells, I think it helps prevent cancers from this effect.
Taking vitamin D has also been shown to help prevent cancer. Studies have shown that higher intakes of vitamin D help prevent prostate & other sex related cancers & colon cancer.
Recently, there has been a good bit of press about the benefits of taking vitamin D & using the natural D3 form to do so.
(Due to many people working & doing recreational activities inside instead of outside now & health aware people limiting excessive sun exposure to avoid skin cancer, people are getting a good bit less vitamin D from sunshine than they once did. And, in winter, few people get enough sunshine to produce adequate vitamin D.)
It's now beginning to look as if the optimal intake of vitamin D3 is closer to 1200 to 2400 iu daily & perhaps even higher in the winter than it is to the old 400 iu RDA.
You do get some in food & from the sunshine you do get. You may also already take 400 iu in your multivitamin. It looks highly likely that adding another 800-1200 iu of vitamin D3 to that is a prudent step to help avoid all cancers.
Natural vitamin E also helps as it is a powerful oil based antioxidant. And, of the 4 main kinds alpha, beta, delta, & gamma tocopherol, gamma tocopherol is thought to directly prevent prostate cancer. (Solgar makes a natural vitamin E with the standard 200 iu of alpha tocopherol which also includes some beta, delta, & gamma tocopherol. And, gamma tocopherol is a second ingredient in some other supplements also.)
(More than 200 iu of alpha tocopherol daily may not be wise according to one study. But taking that much & adding the other kinds through eating a wide variety of the foods high in them is not only safe, it’s likely to be MUCH more protective.)
Foods modestly high in vitamin E include avocados, nuts, seeds, & raw wheat germ. Some salad greens also have vitamin E.
Other supplements that are antioxidants include 200 micrograms a day of selenium.
People who take that much selenium & who HAVE cancer have a signficantly lower death rate than those who have cancer & don’t take it according one study I saw reported. Plus it may well also help prevent cancers to begin with.
However, LOTS more than 200 micrograms a day is NOT better. It’s toxic. So stick to 200 mcg of the supplement & the amounts you do get from your food.
Another really valuable antioxidant supplement to add is alphalipoic acid. It’s an antioxidant the works both as soluble in water & as soluble in oil. In addition, it helps to recharge or increase the effectiveness of all the other antioxidants you take in.
Curcumin, which is in the spice turmeric, which in turn is in most curry powders, is an antioxidant that seems to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This effect may also help prevent all cellular damage & cancers. (It’s also available as a supplement.)
CoQ10 has many benefits & is also considered to be an antioxidant. But its ability to increase the activity of your mitochondria, which produces many of its benefits, may not just prevent cancer, this action of CoQ10 may help turn existing cancers off. (There’s more information on that in the next section.)
3. Here are the 3 potentially most valuable prostate cancer treatments I’ve read about.
a) A recently announced Canadian study has found evidence that the drug “dichloroacetate (DCA)” that is used as a treatment for damage to your mitochondria may, by revivifying your mitochondria in your cells – including any that are cancerous, may also turn the cancer cells back into normal cells. A recent study was reported saying that the drug had successfully revived mitochondria in cancer cells.
This treatment is new & not yet fully researched. But it could be incredibly important. Apparently all cancers turn off the mitochondria of the cells they take over so that all the cells do is divide & multiply. These researchers seem to have found that this drug turns the mitochondria in cancer cells back on. And, it looks like these cells are no longer cancerous after that.
Even better, this cellular effect is common to virtually ALL cancer cells no matter where they are in your body -- or which kind of cancer it is.
This exact treatment may be available soon, or even now from some doctors, as this drug is already in use.
The even better news is that this may explain why some people who have tried larger doses of CoQ10 have experienced some anticancer effects. And, since older people tend to have reduced CoQ10 levels, it may also partly explain why cancers tend to appear in older people mostly.
But the best current news is that this suggests that taking 100 mg of CoQ10 twice a day may also being very strongly preventive of getting cancers of all types.
Since you don’t need to wait on further research to do that -- & that much CoQ10 has so many other health benefits, this looks like a very good preventive strategy to me.
b) Another extremely promising line of research is to literally give your cancer cells a cold.
The promising research is looking at how to make this doable.
To your immune system, cancer cells often look like normal cells, so your immune system leaves them alone.
Although it may sometimes take longer than you’d like, your immune system will kill cold viruses. And, once it gets going, it’s extremely thorough. Even better, if those same kind of cold viruses show up again, they’ve had it as your immune system has learned to recognize them more quickly & attack them in force sooner. That’s why vaccines against diseases work.
The second problem is that your immune system is so good at killing the cold viruses that, when there are cancers cells present, most of the cancers cells never get infected.
Researchers are now working on a “polymer coat” that will disguise cold viruses enough that your immune system will ignore them. But when they then are able to get into the cancer cells, they harm the cancer cells which then split open & let some of the cold viruses escape.
Then your immune system goes into action killing the cold viruses & the expectation is that it will also kill the cancer cells as they no longer look like normal cells to your immune system.
This one is still not completely researched as far as I’ve yet read.
But once this therapy or one like it is perfected to treat prostate cancer cells, it will kill ALL prostate cancer cells; kill them no matter where they are in your body; & kill them if they show up again later as long as your immune system is sensitized to them. That effect may wear off after several years or decades. But it certainly will ensure that none of the current crop of cancer cells survive.
c) Another superior treatment is already available, I understand, in some major medical centers. (I think Stanford Medical Center in California has one or more. And, I think many other similar medical centers do already or will soon.)
There is a radiation treatment called the “Cyberknife” that is both extremely effective in killing localized cancer cells in a definite location & has very few side effects according to what I’ve read.
It’s precise enough to focus its multiple beams ONLY where the cancer cells are & to so so well enough to ensure killing all the cancer cells that are in that location.
The other part is that it uses so many beams, 209, I think I read, that the surrounding health cells get so much less radiation they are spared serious damage.
The effect is like starting a fire with a magnifying glass on a sunny day. Holding the magnifying glass close to your hand, your hardly feels any extra warmth. But at the focal point, you can easily get temperatures high enough to ignite paper.
I have not seen studies to verify this yet. But this may mean that, of the methods of killing localized prostate cancer cells, this one, the Cyberknife system used by doctors who are skilled in its use, is either least likely to cause – or simply does NOT cause -- the kind of nerve & other cellular damage that are common in other radiation methods & frequent in surgeries to kill or remove the cancer cells. It also looks likely that you can keep your prostate & the sexual enjoyment related nerves attached to it.
(The radioactive seeds with precise placement -- that Andy Grove had used & wrote about in Fortune magazine several years ago, is less disfiguring & has lower side-effects than surgery but I suspect has more risk of nerve damage than the Cyberknife.
I have not seen any studies yet to substantiate this. But the Cyberknife looks like it subjects the surrounding tissue to enough less radiation for a shorter enough time, I think it’s likely to produce the least nerve damage.)
And, since this nerve I tissue damage from these other methods can make you incontinent or ruin your sex life by making you impotent or disconnecting your sexual pleasure nerves, that’s a significant issue.
If you do become diagnosed with localized but aggressive prostate cancer, it looks like one of your best available bets.
Hopefully, by using most or all of the preventive measures, that will either not happen to you – or it will happen after one of the totally effective treatments that also kills any cancer cells that have escaped or metastacized has been perfected & is in common use.