Studies show that up to 25 percent of men in their 30s have microscopic, latent (existing but not developed) prostate cancer. And by the time a man enters his 50s, that latency figure is even higher–a whopping 40 percent

These cancers can become significant tumours, sometimes at a ferocious speed. Even when this debilitating cancer is caught early and removed or radiated, there can be serious long-term side effects, including incontinence and impotence.

Early prostate cancer often causes no symptoms. When they do occur, prostate cancer symptoms are the same as those of non-cancerous enlarged prostate (also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Prostate patients can experience frequent urination, difficulty controlling urine flow, painful urination, blood in urine or semen, or pain or stiffness in the hips, thighs and lower back.

The foods men eat profoundly influence whether they develop prostate problems, including prostate cancer. Hydrogenated fats from margarine and processed foods are major culprits, as are red meats, refined sugar, alcohol, coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate, which irritate the prostate and deplete the prostate-boosting nutrients–zinc, magnesium and selenium. Spicy ingredients such as jalapeno peppers or Tabasco sauce can also inflame this male gland. Also, both nicotine and marijuana lower testosterone levels and disrupt prostate health. By choosing to cut out these food and lifestyle risks, you are doing a great deal to eliminate your risk of prostate problems.

You’ve heard it before: prevention is best. By consuming prostate-friendly foods early on, you can delay or even prevent the transition from latent cancer into active tumours later in life–and may even avoid prostate problems altogether.

New Study: Why Prostate Cancer Patients Use Alternative Treatments

When cancer strikes, would you say no to surgery or radiation? No easy decision, but prostate cancer patients sometimes refuse conventional treatments because they fear long-term side-effects such as incontinence and impotence.

This is what researchers Dr. Marja Verhoef and Margaret White found in 2000 when they interviewed 31 patients who chose alternative therapies to treat their cancers. The patients most commonly wanted to avoid the debilitating side-effects and the weakened immune systems resulting from standard cancer care. Others had lost faith in conventional treatment. These patients researched conventional and alternative treatments and used such therapies as meditation, herbal remedies, acupuncture, anticancer diets and naturopathic medicine.

Verhoef and White are now leading a new three-year study of 50 men with prostate cancer who said no to conventional treatments and used alternative therapies instead. The study will document each patient’s decision-making process, symptoms, quality of life, emotional
well-being and chosen alternative cancer therapies. The results will help men make more informed choices about treatment options.

Administered by the Tzu Chi Institute in Vancouver and funded by Health Canada, the study includes researchers from the Tzu Chi Institute, Centre for Integrated Healing, Vancouver General Hospital Prostate Centre and BC Cancer Agency. For more information, phone 604-875-4267 or e-mail mwhite@tzu-chi.bc.ca

Where Is the Prostate?

The prostate is a chestnut-sized male gland responsible for producing the fluid that mixes with semen to produce seminal fluid. It lies between the bladder and rectum, fitting snugly around the urethra.

PDF Table of the Male Reproductive System

Test Your Knowledge

While prostate cancer hits most men later in life, testicular cancer is the disease rising among
younger men.

In Canada, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men, affecting 14 percent (one in seven) of men aged 20 to 44 in 2000. (Source: Canadian Cancer Society)

Testicular cancer increased 1.7 percent per year in Canada in 2000. Overall, it accounts for one per cent of all cancers in Canadian men.

If undescended testicles are corrected before age 10, the risk of testicular cancer drops.

Testicular cancer is usually not fatal. Of those whose cancer has spread, about 65 percent survive; about 97 percent of those whose cancer is isolated in the testes survive. (National Post, Jan. 26, 1999)

Survivors of testicular cancer have a higher incidence of leukemia and cancers of the lung, stomach and other urogenital sites (such as the prostate), according to a report by the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. The risk for a subsequent cancer also seems to increase with age. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 1997;89(19):1394-1395, 1429-1439)

Supplements for Your Prostate

Saw palmetto: Phytosterols, especially beta-sitosterol, are among the beneficial components in this most-recommended herb for the prostate. Saw palmetto is linked with prostate cancer protection and helps alleviate prostate enlargement. The herbal extract comes from saw palmetto berries (Serenoa repens), which can be eaten. If taking berries, aim for 10 grams twice daily. It’s also available in liquid extract (one to two millilitres twice daily), soft native extract (softgel capsule–160 milligrams twice daily) and dry normalized extract (powder capsule–400 mg twice daily with meals). Excessive amounts can cause diarrhea.

Garlic: Research on aged garlic extract shows that it can slow the development of prostate cancer. Aged garlic extract is made from bulbs that have been aged for at least a year to bring out their unique cancer-fighting compounds. It’s available in capsule form. Take as directed on the label.

PDF Food Guide to Prostate Health

For more information, see the alive Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, and Good Fats and Oils (alive Natural Health Guide #17) available at your health food store or from alive Books: 1-800-663-6513.

About the Author

Curtis James is a nutritionist and health writer living in Toronto, ON.