Treatment Of Prostate Cancer With Herbal Therapy
To date, no definite evidence exists to show that any dietary changes or herbal therapy will cure prostate cancer. We do know that people with high fat diets and animals fed high fat diets have a higher incidence of prostate cancer. Low fat diets may be preventative, but once a cancer is formed, changing diets will not cure the cancer. The only mineral or herb which might protect against prostate cancer is selenium according to a small number of studies. Selenium use will not cure a prostate cancer.
Much work is still being done to find active herbal preparations for the treatment and prevention of prostate cancer. An Alternative Interventions Symposium was held in May 1998 at the University of Chicago to review current herbal, dietary and other treatment alternatives for prostate cancer.
PC SPES is a commercially available combination of eight different herbs and has been touted as a non-hormonal treatment for prostate cancer. The eight herbs are chrysanthemum, isatis, licorice, Ganoderma lucidum, Panax pseudo-ginseng, Rabdosia rubescens, saw palmetto and scutellaria (skullcap). Even though PC-SPES is promoted as a non-hormonal therapy for prostate cancer, it is obvious that many herbs do, in fact, have hormonal activity. Saw palmetto, a herb used in prostate enlargement, may have action that lowers the amount of a special male hormone called dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is the most active male hormone that promotes prostate growth. Licorice and ginseng both have actions that promote female hormone activity, even in men. An increase is female hormone activity will lower the amount of male hormone in the blood.
Researchers in New Jersey (New England Journal of Medicine, September 17, 1998) had one patient whose prostate cancer responded to PC-SPES and they researched the drug in animals and humans. They concluded that PC-SPES does have significant female hormone (estrogenic) activity with a significant reduction in male hormone levels (tesosterone). All the patients studied had side effects associated with the use of female hormones, namely breast tenderness and loss of sex drive (libido) and impotence. One patient in their study of eight men with prostate cancer had a blood clot in his leg, a known and significant negative side effect of female hormone use in men.
In summary, PC-SPES does seem to have action against prostate cancer that is sensitive to a reduction in male hormone levels. The claim that PC-SPES is 'non-hormonal' is untrue, however, as all research points to a reduction in male hormone levels in men taking the drug. So far, we have no studies or information that PC-SPES, adds or takes away from current hormone treatment of prostate cancer. In most likelihood it seems to add little to the current drug treatment protocols.
Unfortunately, we have no evidence exists that PC-SPES is helpful in men with prostate cancer that is not responding to standard hormone therapy.
The two major components of green tea are epicatechin (ECG) and epigallocatechin (EGCG). Both agents may have activity in reducing activation of male hormones that are responsible for prostate cancer, male pattern baldness, acne and benign prostatic hyperplasia. The only studies to date are in rats and the research has shown difficulty in growing prostate cancer cells in rats given EGCG.
- Diet studies using low fat diets, soy powder, selenium and Vitamin E have shown some reduction of PSA levels. Cures have not been seen.
- Lycopene and other antioxidants might prevent prostate cancer.
- Essiac and Cat's Claw are used widely throughout the world for prostate cancer without any significant data being present to recommend their use.
- Galactose, genistein, and AHCC (activated hexose correlated compound) are other extracts being studied around the world.
- Shark and bovine cartilage extracts have anti-angiogenic activity depriving cancers of their blood supply. Trials are now underway.
For a synopsis of the Alternative Interventions Symposium held in May 1998 call US-TOO at 1-800-808-7866 for videos and tapes of the meeting.
Reprinted with permission from Dialog Medical, dialogmedical.com
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