Supplements and prostate cancer prevention: an update

An article by Collins on the CalorieLab web site offers a sound summary of “where we are” (or perhaps more accurately “where we aren’t”) with regard to the use of supplements in the prevention of prostate cancer.

In this article, Collins emphasizes the following major points:

  • Selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin C supplements failed to demonstrate any impact on prevention of prostate cancer in recent, very large, randomized clinical trials (in the doses and formulations used in these trials).
  • Research is ongoing on isothiocyanates — natural compounds found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
  • Research is continuing on the potential of  lycopene, a cousin to beta-carotene and a powerful antioxidant, which is commonly found it tomatoes (although a small, recent trial showed no evidence of clinical benefit in late stage disease).
  • Several compounds found in garlic offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and specific anti-cancer effects and  can affect PSA levels in later stages of prostate cancer development.
  • Products in other foods, such as green tea, flaxseed, soy, and perhaps other beans may help to prevent prostate cancer, although no evidence of a direct link to lower prostate cancer risk has been established as yet.
  • Excessive amounts of milk or high doses of calcium (more than 1,500 mg daily) may increase prostate cancer risk.

Perhaps surprisingly (since there are at randomized Phase III clinical trials with the product ongoing), Collins makes no mention of pomegranate juice/extract.

Collins concludes by stating that “some experts believe that efforts to identify specific nutrients or compounds for supplementation may be better spent elsewhere, focusing on healthy dietary patterns and lifestyle habits, for example.” The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink tends to agree with this statement for the simple reason that preventing prostate cancer on its own, without also trying to prevent conditions like heart disease and diabetes, is not a very viable long-term health strategy.

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