Herb Mix Nixes Prostate Cancer in Lab
Katz already recommends herbal preparations for patients at high risk of prostate cancer. These are men with high PSA levels but without evidence of cancer, and men with a family history of prostate cancer.
"There is lycopene, from tomatoes," Katz says. "People with diets rich in tomato extracts have a lower incidence of prostate cancer, and men who took lycopene before prostate surgery had smaller tumors with better surgical margins. We also are studying GCP, which is made from soybeans. And in the large SELECT trials, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, we are looking at selenium and vitamin E. This trial has a five-year patient accrual period and a seven-year follow-up. I think these things can be take in low doses. They are nontoxic and inexpensive. Right now, rather than waiting around for 12 years, if you have one of these high risk feature why not take them?"
Michael K. Brawer, MD, director of Seattle's Northwest Prostate Institute, says Katz's work is well respected by other urologists. He notes that there are several clinical trials looking at whether COX-2 inhibitors can prevent prostate cancer. And he says that while proof is lacking, there is evidence that people who take some supplements have a lower incidence of prostate cancer.
"What I tell patients is that the data is not conclusive, but there are a number of compounds -- like lycopene, selenium, and vitamin E - that seem to be linked to decreased incidence of prostate cancer," Brawer tells WebMD. "I think to the extent you can extrapolate from studies that weren't specifically about prostate cancer, these compounds are probably safe and may have efficacy. But there are other compounds that can do harm. One, PC-SPEC, was a disaster. That showed we need to study these things carefully to make sure they are safe and effective."