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Alternative Treatments for Prostate Cancer

Is pomegranate juice chemopreventive?

In rodent studies, scientists have demonstrated a positive effect of pomegranate in reducing cancer cell growth in mice. Studies on human cells show similar promise. This has led some researchers to recommend further exploration of pomegranate extract for human therapeutic use.

As with lycopene, drinking pomegranate juice and eating the whole fruit can easily be incorporated in a balanced, healthy diet. And doing so is not harmful when the juice or fruit is consumed in moderate amounts.

What do we know about saw palmetto berry for prostate problems?

Several antioxidants and other nutrients have been identified as potentially helpful supplements for conditions of the prostate. Those conditions include benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), or enlarged prostate. Clinical trials are being conducted to find out more about the benefits of these "super nutrients."

In the United States, men have relied more on the herb saw palmetto than on other natural therapies for relief from enlarged prostate. Men participating in several studies had better results when taking saw palmetto as compared to taking placebo. Saw palmetto hasn't been shown to prevent or treat prostate cancer.

The most common side effect of saw palmetto is mild digestive distress. Saw palmetto also seems to have some health benefits when used with African plum tree bark extract. But researchers caution that not all extracts are the same. Some preparations of these herbs can have different properties. Because herbs and dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, there are no guarantees about the quality of natural products.

What do we know about African plum tree for prostate conditions?

The African plum tree is also known as Pygeum africanum. Its bark has traditionally been used in African cultures to treat urinary and bladder problems associated with BPH. In Europe, extract from the African plum tree bark is extensively used. It's been reported to reduce symptoms associated with BPH such as having to get up frequently at night to urinate or frequent urination during the day. Use of this herb for health reasons is so widespread around the world that the African plum tree is now endangered.

African plum tree bark extract may help men deal with the discomfort of BPH. But it has not been proven to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate. Side effects noted with use of African plum tree bark include nausea and stomach upset.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jay B. Zatzkin, MD, FACP on July 31, 2013
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