Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Best Medicine for Prostate Cancer is a Healthy Prostate

Cancer rarely occurs in healthy tissues. Often, years of repeated damage to cells is what causes the body’s natural cellular signals and responses to go wrong and turn malignant. This is why antioxidants have gotten so much attention for so many years now, because they eliminate mutant oxygen molecules which damage cells by stealing electrons. Similarly, you can reduce your risk of developing cancer by keeping your body healthy, since this helps to keep your body’s tissues healthy and resistant to the chain-reaction process which leads, often tragically, to cancer.

Once cancer develops, its progression depends on the kind of cancer, how aggressively it develops, and its location in the body. Prostate cancer is often a slow-progressing, non-aggressive cancer which is reluctant to metastasize. It is estimated that the majority of men with prostate cancer never actually know that they have it, since the tumour on the prostate may grow so slowly that he will eventually pass away from a totally unrelated cause. Of course, not all prostate cancers are easy to manage. A CDC fact sheet from 2003 predicted 220,900 new cases and 28,900 deaths from prostate cancer for that year alone.

With that in mind, it becomes clear that anything we can do, as men, to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, is worth doing. However, it is only worth doing if there is a reason to believe that it will help. This may seem like an obvious point, but in an important sense it is not. For example, many cancer patients every year forgo conventional treatment in favour of an alternative therapy. Some of these unconventional therapies may work (a topic I will explore here in the future), but many more of these therapies fail and leave the patient with an almost certain death sentence. The bottom line is that the alternative therapy will often have no supporting evidence and hence give the patient no real reason to believe that it will work. The only reason to believe that it will work might be the patient’s own desire that it work, and this is no good reason.

Of course, there are many products which do enjoy significant empirical support for their roles in reducing the risk of developping cancer. Green Tea, Selenium, plant pigments like Lycopene or Quercetin, and minerals like Zinc all have a wealth of clinical data which show that they can reduce the risk of cancer. However, it is important to note that these things don’t work unless you take them in moderation over a sustained period of time. Megadoses are not recommended by anyone who has any scientific credibility.

Look at it this way: these are all compounds which occur naturally in a healthy diet, and so your body expects to get them in moderate doses, mixed in with several other nutrients. This is one reason why I tend to advocate compound supplements over dedicated ones. For example, rather than taking a pure Lycopene supplement, look at a proprietary blend like Provelex which contains Lycopene, but also Quercetin, Zinc, and even Selenium.

The reason I use the example of Provelex is that, looking at their website, and going on the company’s reputation as I have heard it, this appears to be a very reputable product. If you are looking for some such product, then I will tell you honestly that I have not heard of a product with a better reputation. This reputation, as well as its particular blend of ingredients, leads me to think that there is good reason to believe that this brand works. However, other brands do exist and you should always feel free to shop around. Just remember that these supplements can be very powerful and that the choice you make can extend or even save your life. Make that choice a good one.

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