A healthy lifestyle can reduce our risks of developing chronic health problems, including some cancers. Men who want to improve their odds of avoiding prostate cancer may be interested in trying dietary supplements and vitamins.
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Cleveland Clinic Glickman Urology & Kidney Institute Chairman Eric Klein, MD, weighs in on eight things believed to prevent prostate cancer:
The 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, finasteride and dutasteride, reduce the size of the prostate gland and are FDA-approved to treat urinary symptoms arising from prostate enlargement. They do reduce men’s risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, the FDA is concerned about the slightly higher chance of getting a high-grade cancer among men in whom cancer is not prevented. Also, these medications can reduce men’s sex drive or cause erectile dysfunction and inhibit ejaculation while men take them.
2. Vitamin E
This vitamin has powerful antioxidant properties and was thought to cut prostate cancer risk. However, a large population-based study led by Dr. Klein at Cleveland Clinic proved that taking vitamin E actually increased men’s risks of developing prostate cancer.
Epidemiological studies suggest that soy and soy products do reduce prostate cancer risks.
Data are mixed on the protective effect of this antioxidant, contained in tomatoes and other red fruits. Any benefit is likely derived from consuming the whole fruits rather than by taking lycopene supplements, however. You can get the most from this nutrient by lightly cooking tomatoes in olive oil or by making tomato sauce from scratch, for example.
5. Green tea
This tea contains polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. Polyphenols do slow the growth of prostate cancer cells in mice. They seem to inhibit several cancer-causing genes.
6. COX-2 inhibitors
The COX-2 enzyme is produced more often by prostate cancer cells than by normal cells. Studies show that COX-2 inhibitors significantly slow the growth of prostate cancer cell lines. Common COX-2 inhibitors include NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Adding vitamin D may boost the benefit.
7. Red wine
The polyphenols in red grape skins and seeds are believed to be anti-cancer agents but have not been directly tested for prostate cancer prevention. Research suggests that the antioxidants in red wine may inhibit the development of certain cancers.
Studies have shown that this dietary supplement does not prevent prostate cancer.
Dr. Klein advises any men who are interested in taking supplements or medications — even NSAIDs —for prostate cancer prevention to clear it with their doctors first.
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