Importance of Detecting Prostate Cancer Early

December 3, 2012 by  
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Cancer

Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer that affects men. It develops in the prostate gland, where it either grows slowly or spreads to other parts of the body quickly. This disease occurs when there are abnormal cells in the prostate, although the underlying cause of this isn’t known. It’s important to recognize the signs of this disease since early detection is associated with a higher chance of successfully treating it.

Risk Factors

Prostate cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in men who are over 75 years old, according to the National Institutes of Health. NIH This disease rarely occurs in men who are younger than 40; it’s more common in men who are older than 60. Risk factors associated with this disease include being African-American and having a family history of prostate cancer. Other risk factors include eating foods that are high in fat and drinking too much alcohol.

Signs of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer typically causes symptoms when it’s more advanced. Common symptoms of this disease include difficulty urinating, pelvic pain, weak stream of urine, blood in urine or semen and leg swelling. Bone pain in the lower back or pelvic region can also occur in some cases. Men who experience any signs of this disease should schedule an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible.

Prognosis

Prostate cancer treatment has a higher success rate when the cancer is found early and hasn’t spread outside the prostate gland. The other factor that affects the prognosis of this disease is how abnormal the cancerous cells are. If the cancer has just started to spread to other areas of the body, treatment can still be successful in some cases.

Testing

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests and digital rectal exams can help detect prostate cancer in the early stages. Men who have a high risk of having this disease should ask their doctor how often they need to be tested. Some organizations recommend that all men between the ages of 40 and 75 years old should have these tests done once a year, while other organizations suggest talking it over with a doctor to weigh the pros and cons first. Mayo Clinic It’s important to keep in mind that elevated PSA levels don’t necessarily indicate the presence of cancerous cells. It’s also possible to have cancer without having elevated PSA levels.

Prevention

Men can lower their risk of having prostate cancer by reducing their fat intake, especially in foods that contain a lot of animal fat. Adding more fruits and vegetables can help prevent prostate cancer. Tomatoes are one of the best foods to add since they contain lycopene, which has been associated with prostate cancer prevention. Exercising on a regular basis might also help reduce the risk of this disease. Lower rates of prostate cancer have been found in men who exercise frequently. Certain medications might also help prevent prostate cancer, although some have also been linked to a higher risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer. Those who are interested in taking one of these medications should talk to their doctor about the risks involved.

When PSA levels are high or the prostate is enlarged, doctors will usually perform a biopsy to check for cancer. If prostate cancer is found, other tests are done to see if it has spread. The treatment methods following a cancer diagnosis depend on how advanced the disease is. These methods range from surgery to hormone therapy and chemotherapy. Men who are successfully treated for prostate cancer will need to visit their doctor often for testing. This is done to make sure that the cancer is gone or hasn’t spread outside the prostate gland.

About the Author:

*** author and link removed *** … // but, test your prostate levels for prevention of prostate cancer.

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Dr. Jud Fisher of Healthcare Partners of Nevada Discusses Men’s Health

June 17, 2011 by  
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I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=4ARAwVb_WMQ%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Dr. Jud Fisher, a renown family practitioner, talks with the Las Vegas Morning Blend channel 13 about men’s health during Men’s Health Week.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Movember – Health and cooking tips to fight cancer: BBQ Grilling Meat

April 11, 2011 by  
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I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=crXgDWxWjpQ%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Nutritionist Beth Ginsberg shows you how grilling meat can affect your prostate. Grow a moustache in November to raise money for the fight against prostate cancer. For more information on Movember visit www.movember.com

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

12 Tips for Optimal Prostate Health / Treatment of BPH (Enlargement), Cancer, and Prostatitis!

March 29, 2011 by  
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I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=2G_bMWkrMkE%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

www.ayurstate.com Recommendations You can optimize your long-term prostate health by: 1) Reversing Damage – Years of stressful living caused damage to your body. To help reverse this, Ayurstate releases hundreds of phytonutrients that act at the molecular level to repair damaged tissue, rejuvenate your prostate gland, inhibit polyamines and prostaglandins, tone smooth muscles in your urogenital system, and reduce inflammation of the urethra and prostate gland. 2) Increasing Soy Intake – Researchers believe that the increasing estrogen-to-testosterone ratio brought on by aging is one of the factors that adversely affects the size of the prostate gland. 2 ounces or more of soy in your daily diet will help decrease estrogen levels and restore proper estrogen-to-testosterone ratio that becomes skewed as men get into their 60s and beyond. Good sources of soy include tofu (soybean curd), miso, tempeh, roasted soy nuts, and soy flour or powder. 3) Increasing Selenium Intake – Selenium is essential for good prostate health. Selenium-rich foods include wheat germ, tuna, herring and other seafood and shellfish, beef liver and kidney, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, Brazil nuts, mushrooms, garlic, onions, and kelp. 4) Increasing Zinc Intake – 15 mg of zinc are needed daily for healthy prostate function. Pumpkin seed in the shell, oysters, beans, and nuts are excellent sources of zinc. 5) Minimizing Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol depletes both zinc and vitamin B6 (which is

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Watch out for Phi, the new prostate cancer test

May 26, 2010 by  
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The Prostate Health Index or Phi for short is making waves. And doctors, researchers, and patients are hoping that this new test will clear up the ambiguity surrounding prostate cancer testing once and for all. Is this the new prostate cancer test we are waiting for? The current testing protocol is based on the levels of prostate-specific antigens (PSA) in the blood. One of the main problems of the PSA method is the high rate of false positives that lead to unnecessary biopsy, anxiety, and even cancer treatment.

Enter Phi, a new method developed by the medical device company Beckman Coulter. The method tests for 3 different types of PSA: total PSA, free PSA, ands [-2]pro PSA in the blood serum. From these 3 values, an index called Phi ratio is calculated [Phi = (proPSA / free PSA) x (square root of PSA)]. Its advocates claim that this index is a much more precise measure of prostate cancer risk. At the annual meeting of the European Association for Urology in Barcelona last April, Phi was introduced in a symposium sponsored by Beckman Coulter and addressed the following issues:

Serum Prostate Health Index (phi) significantly increases specificity when selecting men for biopsy

Implementation of the Prostate Health Index (phi) in a prostate cancer risk assessment tool

Predicting an unfavorable outcome in men enrolled in active surveillance for prostate cancer

Supporting data were from 71 patients of John Hopkins Hospital. In these patients, researchers were able to show that Phi was correlated to unfavorable biopsy results.

Additional claims from the Barcelona symposium:

“Serum Beckman Coulter Phi is a multivariate index incorporating PSA, free PSA and [-2]proPSA concentrations into a single result to estimate the probability of cancer in men aged 50 and older with total PSA in the 2.0-10.0 ng/ml range and a non-suspicious DRE. [-2]proPSA is a novel serum marker strongly associated with prostate cancer and delivers added specificity to PSA. As a result, phi contributes to significantly reduce the number of negative biopsies resulting from suspicious PSA or %free PSA results.”

Indeed, this new test looks promising but data from large scale studies are needed to confirm its use as a more specific alternative to the standard PSA test. The annual meeting of the American Urological Association is scheduled this coming week (May 29 to June 3) in San Francisco. We will be sure to hear more about Phi at the conference.

Walnuts may help against prostate cancer

April 7, 2010 by  
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Good old walnuts, the well-known brain food, have some other health benefits not previously reported before. Californian scientists report that walnuts may be a strong weapon against prostate cancer as demonstrated in animal studies. The researchers used lab mice genetically modified to developed prostate cancer. One group of animal was fed an equivalent of 14 shelled walnuts each day for two months. Another group was fed with soybean oil at a similar dose. The researchers observed that the prostate cancer in walnut-fed animals was reduced in size and growth rate. The size was on average 50% smaller and the growth rate 30% slower than the soybean-fed mice. The walnut-fed animals also had lower levels of the insulin-like protein growth-factor 1. High levels of this protein are an indicator of increased risk of prostate cancer.

According to head researcher Dr. Paul Davis:

We decided to use whole walnuts in the diet because when a single component of a food linked to cancer prevention has been tested as a supplement, that food’s cancer-preventative effects disappear in most cases.”

So what do walnuts have that helps fight cancer? D. Davis’ team reports that walnuts contain a wide range of health compounds that include omega-3 fatty acids, gamma tocopherol (a form of vitamin E), polyphenols, and antioxidants.

Previous research studies have shown that walnut is also beneficial for cardiovascular health by reducing levels of endothelin, a compound linked to inflammation and atherosclerosis.

Dr. Davis continues:

Walnuts should be part of a prostate-healthy diet. They should be part of a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables.”

Indeed, the importance of diet in cancer prevention is a well-known fact but there is little practical advice for those who wish to alter their diet for the better. By testing specific food stuffs, scientists hope to pinpoint which food in the diet are most beneficial and thus optimize preventive measures. The next step is to validate whether the benefits of walnuts can be extrapolate to humans.

According to Dr Helen Rippon, Head of Research Management at The Prostate Cancer Charity

“This new research, which is yet to be fully peer reviewed, does provide new clues about the development of prostate cancer and how a man’s diet might help prevent the disease by regulating their hormone levels and the way that genes work. However it is far too early to say whether walnuts can prevent prostate cancer in men as well as these special, genetically modified mice.

Nonetheless, dietary modification is still of great interest in prostate cancer prevention, particularly as it involves men taking action to support their own health. Nuts are a rich source of nutrients and should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. However, over-consumption is not to be recommended because of their high content of saturated fat, which could cause other health problems like obesity – itself a risk factor for many cancers.”

The male infertility-cancer link

March 30, 2010 by  
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Talk about hitting a man when he is already down. A recent research studyreports that male infertility in younger years may be an indication for increased likelihood of having aggressive prostate cancer later in life. The study looked at 22,562 male patients checked for infertility from 1967 to 1998. The data, which were include in 15 California infertility clinics were crosslinked to data in the California Cancer Registry.  Statistical analysis of the data showed that those who had been diagnosed to have the male factor infertility have the highest risk for high-grade prostate cancer, with a 2.6 times higher likelihood compared to those without the factor.

The authors concluded:

Men with male factor infertility were found to have an increased risk of subsequently developing high-grade prostate cancer. Male infertility may be an early and identifiable risk factor for the development of clinically significant prostate cancer.

The results were published in the journal Cancer. The study was conducted by American researchers from different research institutes, led by a team at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

This is not the first study to link male infertility to male-specific cancer. Previous studies have reported that infertile males have higher risk for testicular cancer than those who have normal fertility. And many experts believe there is a strong genetic factor involve.

According to study author and fertility specialist Dr. Paul Turek, who founded the Turek Clinic in San Francisco:

“Over all, this leads me to think that a common genetic defect, or a defect in an important genetic pathway, may underlie all three and possibly even more conditions in life. The infertility is just the first ’sign’ of the problem. Maybe, infertility is the ‘ultimate’ medical disease of a species and reflects larger issues down the line that are serious enough to have God or Darwin say ‘no more reproduction’ to that individual.”

The infertility-cancer link has some consequences on in vitro fertilization (IVF). Are infertile fathers going through the IVF procedure passing on the infertility and cancer factor to their offsprings? Are there any other health risks related to infertility? Would this line of research eventually lead to the popular use of preimplantation genetic screening?

Soon: a vaccine against prostate cancer?

February 23, 2010 by  
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What does the small pox virus has to do with prostate cancer? Well, scientists are using relatives of the deadly virus to develop a vaccine that holds lots of promise for patients with advanced prostate cancer. The vaccine Prostvac-VF is still in the testing stage and is a ground-breaking project of BN ImmunoTherapeutics, a division of Danish biotech firm Bavarian Nordic.

In the clinical trial development program of Prostvac-VF, the vaccine the vaccine was tested in 125 male patients with advanced prostate cancer that was resistant to most cancer drugs. The study conducted with the help of researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

The results of the trial was very promising, with patients treated with the vaccine having extended survival of 8 months or more compared to those who did not receive the vaccine. According to researcher Dr. Philip Kantoff:

The average survival for these men is two years…At three years, 30 percent of the men who got the vaccine were still alive.”

Prostvac is one of therapeutic vaccines currently in the development stage Therapeutic vaccines are used to treat diseases that have been diagnosed and are therefore different from prophylactic vaccines which prevent diseases.

Prostvac was developed from genetically-engineered cowpox virus and fowlpox viruses which are related to the small pox virus. The viruses were weakened and genetically engineered to carry irregular versions of the prostate specific antigen (PSA), which are produced only by prostate cells. In addition, the vaccine also induces the production of “three costimulatory molecules that spur the immune system to a more vigorous attack on tumor cells.”

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The authors concluded that immunotherapy with Prostvac-VF was well tolerated and associated with a 44% reduction in the death rate and an 8.5-month improvement in median overall survival rate in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. However, larger studies needed to confirm these findings.

Dr. Kantoff continues:

“Although this study is relatively small, it offers encouraging evidence of a clinically meaningful benefit from this vaccine approach.”

A trial that intends to include about 600 patients is in the planning.

There is a large economic potential for an effective prostate vaccine. Prostate cancer is a leading cause of mortality among American men, ranking second only to lung cancer as cancer killer. 2009 statistics from the American Cancer Society give 192,000 diagnosed cases 27,000 deaths. Financial analysts foresee a billion-dollar market for such a vaccine.

Exercise benefits prostate cancer patients

February 3, 2010 by  
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In 2009, 192,280 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the US. In the same year, 27,360 men died from the disease, according the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Next to lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second cause of cancer mortality in men.

NCI defines prostate cancer as

“…cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum).”

Like most cancer treatments, treatments for prostate cancer bring some side effects, some of them quite severe. Which is why the motivation for physical movement is rather low among cancer patients before and after treatment. A recent study, however, indicates that even a little bit of exercise can go a long way in improving your prognosis.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health followed up 2,686 patients with prostate cancer who were part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study which spanned more than two decades (1986-2008). The patients’ physical activity was assessed before and after cancer treatment.

The results of the study showed that:

  • Engaging in vigorous exercise such as jogging, biking, swimming, or playing tennis for 30 minutes a week lowers the risk of death from any cause by 35%.
  • Walking 4 or more hours a week lowers the risk by 23%.
  • Power walking (brisk walk for 90 minutes a day) decreases the risk by 51%.

According to lead author Dr.  Stacey A. Kenfield, epidemiology research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“We saw benefits at very attainable levels of activity. The results suggest that men with prostate cancer should do some physical activity for their overall health…How these factors may work together to affect prostate cancer biologically is still being studied. For now, our data indicate that for prostate cancer survivors, a moderate amount of regular exercise may improve overall survival, while 5 or more hours per week of vigorous exercise may decrease the death rate due to prostate cancer specifically.

The study results showed that the more intensive and the longer the duration of the physical activity, the greater are the benefits for the cancer patients. Aside from improving the survival rate, it also helps in reducing the long-lasting side effects of cancer treatment such as chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression. It improves cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal health, and overall well-being.

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STD and prostate cancer

December 2, 2009 by  
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Sexual infections can increase the risk for certain types of cancer. This is one of the reasons why girls as mens healthyoung as 11 are encourage to get vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV) which can cause cervical cancer. More recently, a similar HPV vaccine for men has also been approved in order to prevent penile cancer.

Another type of sexual infection has also been implicated in increasing cancer risk. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found a link between the common sexually transmitted infection by Trichomonas vaginalis and risk of an aggressive form of prostate cancer in men.

Trichomonas vaginalis is a single-celled protozoan parasite that causes the sexually transmitted disease (STD) tricomoniasis. It is the most common STD that is not caused by a virus. It is estimated that 174 million people worldwide get this type of infection this year. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) “most men with trichomoniasis do not have signs or symptoms; however, some men may temporarily have an irritation inside the penis, mild discharge, or slight burning after urination or ejaculation.”

Inflammation is a risk factor in prostate cancer and trichomoniasis can be a source of inflammation, esepcially in the genital area. Unfortunately, many people with this infection are asymptomatic , are not aware they have it and can trasnmit this disease to their partners.

The current study looked at 673 male patients with prostate cancer and another 673 without cancer as part of the Physicians’ Health Study. Blood samples were collected and analyzed for infection status. The results showed that trichomoniasis infection was associated with a more than two-fold increase in the risk of prostate cancer diagnosed at an advanced staged. Furthermore, the increase in mortality due to this type of cancer was increased three-fold.

According to author Dr. Lorelei Mucci, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at HSPH

“The fact that we found a strong association between serologic evidence of infection with Trichomonas vaginalis, a potentially modifiable risk factor, and risk of advanced and lethal disease represents a step forward in prostate cancer, especially given that so few risk factors for aggressive prostate cancer have been identified.”

In other words, preventing trichomoniasis will also help prevent aggressive and deadly prostate cancer. Trichomoniasis can be treated with prescription drugs such as metronidazole or tinidazole.

It is to be noted that trichomoniasis is not restricted to men only. Women can also get the infection, which causes genital inflammation and increases a women’s susceptibility to HIV infection.

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Disparity in cancer care: it’s not that bad after all

November 9, 2009 by  
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healthcare costEthnicity, geneder and socioeconomic status are three factors that are often associated with health outcome disparities, including cancer care. There have been studies that showed disparities in care and therefore health outcomes in cancer patients. The Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit says this is not the case in their hospital, according to a new study.

The research study looked at 788 male patients aged 44 to 90 years at the hospital diagnosed with localized prostate cancer and were treated with external beam radiation therapy. Almost half (48.5%) of the study participants were African Americans with a median household annual income $36,917. 46% of the participants were white with a median household income of $60,190 per year.

 Does the quality of care you get depend on who you are, what you are, and how much you earn?

The study results suggest that a patient’s ethnicity and income do not influence the outcome of the study participants.

According to study author Dr. Benjamin Movsas,  chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the hospital

“This study offers an extremely important message for all patients with prostate cancer who receive radiation therapy. Despite the fact that there was a large difference in income based on race, none of the socioeconomic status factors predicted for outcome. All patients did equally well, based on the known prognostic factors.”

In another study, researchers looked at the outcomes of female patients with advanced ovarian cancer treated with chemotherapy of  cisplatin/paclitaxel. The study participants consisted of 1,392 whites and 97 African Americans Their results revealed that race has no impact on the patients’ treatment outcomes. One limitation of this study, however, is the low number of African American participants.

Previous studies suggested that socioeconomic factors can strongly influence treatment outcomes of people who had

The two recent studies on cancer and health outcomes give some comfort that disparities in health care due to socioeconomic status may not be that bad after all.

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Fighting prostate cancer with power food

September 23, 2009 by  
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beansSeptember is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and this week, September 21 to 27 is the Prostate Cancer Awareness Week.

Prostate cancer is a big big thing nowadays. Just look at the statistics as to the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer (overdiagnosed?). Just look at the number studies focused on this type of cancer.

That’s why scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center give us a list of power fruits and vegetables to help prevent and fight prostate cancer.

Beans

Beans come in all shapes, sizes. They also come in different colors – black, white, red or green. Beans are rich in proteins, fiber, and flavonols which are also antioxidants, and are said to have anti-cancer properties.

Broccoli

Brobroccoli_vegetablesccoli is a well-known cancer-fighting vegetable. Together with its cruciferous relatives Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, it is a rich source of vitamins A and C, fiber, calcium and folate. However, the phytochemicals which give broccoli its strong anti-cancer properties are sulforaphane and glucosinate.

Garlic

As a traditional remedy, garlic is on top of the list. It is good for the heart and the immune system. Aside antibacterial properties, it is also able to repair DNA. It has been shown to be effective against colorectal cancer as well as prostate cancer.

Green tea

Tea, especially green tea is a potent weapon against cancer and cardiovascular disorder. Green tea has more antioxidants than black tea, wine or dark chocolate. A recent study showed that daily consumption of green tea decreased the levels of prostate cancer biomarkers in patients scheduled for radical prostatectomy.

Soy

Soy or soya is a rich source of isoflavones, which are plant phytochemicals. Isoflavones contain estrogens and can serve as hormone therapy to lower levels of testosterone. Soy is also supposed to be good for the heart andgarlic the vascular system and has been a popular alternative to meat and dairy protein sources. Caveat: the health benefits of soy have been a subject of controversy lately. I will write more about the pros and cons of soy in another post.

Sweet potatoes

They are not only sweet, they are also healthy. Sweet potatoes are rich in B-carotene (hence the yellow color) and vitamin A. Just the kind of food you’d want to add to your armory of anti-cancer agents. According to the American Cancer Society, one medium-sized sweet potato is enough to provide the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Recently, researchers developed a purple type of sweet potato which contains anthocyanin, another antioxidant compound.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a natural phytochemical with power antioxidant properties. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, lycopene helps to fight cell damage that may lead to prostate cancer. Tomatoes are also special because they do not lose their nutrients and antioxidants even with processing and cooking. Thus, it is not only fresh tomatoes but tomato sauce and tomato soup that can help fight cancer.

Watermelon

watermelon_slicesWatermelons are always thought be mostly water. However, it owes its red coloring to lycopene, the same cancer-fighting phytochemical found in tomato, and also in other red or pink-colored fruoits like guava and grapefruit. In addition, watermelon is also rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene.

 

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The anticancer properties of flaxseed

September 10, 2009 by  
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flax seedFlaxseed is a versatile plant with lots of uses. Its leaves and stem give fibers and its seeds are believed to be beneficial to our health. Flaxseed oil is a popular natural supplement which is supposedly good for cardiovascular health.

Anti-cancer properties of flaxseed

Researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas report that flaxseed consumption  may help reduce risks for certain cancers, especially prostate cancer.

The researchers looked at 161 male patients diagnosed with prostate cancer but haven’t started treatment.  Some  participants were given three tablespoons of flaxseed per day and some not. After three weeks, the researchers observed that cancer cells of those who had flaxseed were not growing as fast as those who hadn’t. The findings suggest that flaxseed might prevent and control prostate cancer. A tablespoon of flaxseed a day may be enough to keep the cancer cells away.

Nutritional value of flaxseed

According to the Flax Council of Canada, a tablespoon (about 14 g) of flaxseed oil is contains:

  • Calories:  124
  • Total fat:  14 g
  • Omega-3:  8 g
  • Omega-6:  2 g
  • Omega-9:  3 g

Eating the seeds directly may even be better. The seed coat of flaxseed  is rich in fiber and the inside is rich in nutrients. Some of the nutrients found in flaxseed in addition to the fatty acids are:

  • B vitamins
  • Lignan

The researchers believe that the omega-3 fatty acids and lignan may be responsible for flaxseed’s anti-cancer properties.

According to Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried

“Cancer cells migrate by attaching onto other cells. Omega 3 fatty acids keep cells from binding together and attaching to blood vessels. Prostate cancer is linked to the hormone testosterone. Lignan may reduce testosterone, and more active forms of this hormone. In turn, lowering testosterone levels may reduce a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer.”

How to prepare flaxseed

I know flaxseeds  as toppings for bread and pastries. The researchers at MD Anderson recommend that flaxseed should be ground to make it more digestible and make the nutrients in the seed easier to absorb. However, eating the seeds as such or the ground version might not be agreeable to the palate. Thus, they suggest other creative ways of taking your daily dose of flaxseed:

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Alcohol consumption increases cancer risk in men, too.

August 20, 2009 by  
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alcohol-funny-glassesIt was only earlier this year that the Million Women Study reported the following: alcohol consumption even at low levels increases women’s risk for cancer.

It seems that the same is true for men as well. Canadian researchers have recently reported that moderate to heavy drinking increases the risk among men of developing several types of cancer.

About 13 cancers are linked to lifetime heavy alcohol consumption, among them are:

  • Esophageal cancer, with a 7-fold risk increase
  • Colon cancer, 80% increase
  • Lung cancer, 50% increase
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Prostate cancer

The strongest link was found to be with esophageal and liver cancer. This doesn’t come as surprise to me. My eldest brother died of esophageal cancer 4 years ago which metastasized to his liver. He had been a heavy drinker for more than 20 years.

These significantly increased risks, however, were not observed among moderate (less than daily) and light drinkers.

And as expected, the more alcohol is consumed, the higher is the risk of having cancer. In fact, the study results indicate that alcohol consumption may be responsible for up to 5% of cancer deaths.

The researchers from the University of Montreal looked at 3,600 study participants and data on their cancer history and alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption is especially linked to a very aggressive type of prostate cancer. In another study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, alcohol consumption was found to counteract the effect of finasteride (Proscar), a drug used as prophylactic therapy to prevent cancer of the prostate. The study concluded that

“Heavy, daily drinking increased the risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Heavy drinking made finasteride ineffective for reducing prostate cancer risk.”

For wine lovers, it might be comforting to know that this link to cancer was only observed for beer and spirit consumption but not for wine. However, hasty conclusions should not be made before more data are available.

According to author Dr. Andrea Benedetti of McGill University

“For the most part we showed that light drinkers were less affected or not affected at all. It is people who drink every day or multiple times a day who are at risk. This adds to the growing body of evidence that heavy drinking is extremely unhealthy in so many ways. Cancer very much included.”

Green tea and prostate cancer

June 23, 2009 by  
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green_tea_cupAnother reason to drink green tea – at least for men. A recent study reports that consumption of green tea may slow down the progression of prostate cancer. The study looked at 26 men, aged 41 to 72 years old who were diagnosed with prostate cancer and due to undergo radical prostatectomy.

The study patients were given a daily dose of four capsules of Polyphenon E, which is equivalent to about 12 cups of concentrated normally brewed green tea, for 12 to 73 days until the day before surgery. They were monitored for serum concentrations of the following biomarkers: hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and prostate specific antigen (PSA). HGF and VEGF levels are especially relevant because they are good prognostic indicators of metastasis.

The results showed that consumption of Polyphenon E led to a significant reduction in levels of HGF, VEGF and PSA markers, even up to 30% in some cases.

According to researcher Dr. James A. Cardelli, professor and director of basic and translational research in the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport

“The investigational agent used in the trial, Polyphenon E (provided by Polyphenon Pharma) may have the potential to lower the incidence and slow the progression of prostate cancer”.

Green tea is rich in antioxidant phytochemicals such as polyphenols, catechins and flavanols. It is said that green tea contains more antioxidant compared to other drinks such as black tea, wine or hot chocolate because of the minimal oxidation it undergoes during its production. This is not the first study to demonstrate the health benefits of green tea. Several studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of green tea.

Another study by Italian researchers “demonstrated that consumption of green tea polyphenols reduced the risk of developing prostate cancer in men with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN).

Japanese researchers reported that green can prevent lifestyle-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In 2003, Dutch researchers reported that tea is “the most consumed drink in the world after water, well ahead of coffee, beer, wine and carbonated soft drinks.” Unfortunately, this trend has changed since then as carbonated drinks became more and more popular.

Currently, further studies are being conducted using Polyphenon E, including one in breast cancer patients.

Dr. Cardelli continues to say:

“There is reasonably good evidence that many cancers are preventable, and our studies using plant-derived substances support the idea that plant compounds found in a healthy diet can play a role in preventing cancer development and progression.”

Is this new test a better alternative to PSA?

June 9, 2009 by  
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blood-drawingWith the current controversy related to the unreliability of the PSA test, the news of a new promising blood test to detect prostate cancer is very welcome.

PSA stands for prostate-specific antigens and levels of PSA in the blood are used as biomarkers for prostate cancer. Unfortunately, the method gives such a high rate of false positives that its usefulness has been questioned lately.

Researchers at the Dana Farber Institute tested the six-gene whole blood RNA transcript-based diagnostic test developed by Source MDx in Boulder, Colo in terms of accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity. Sensitivity is the ability of a test to detect the disease. Specificity is the ability of a test to rule out the presence of the disease.

The study revealed that the six-gene model [test] was more accurate than PSA alone at predicting cancer if you had it and no cancer if you didn’t. In addition, the test’s accuracy increased even more when sued in combination with the PSA test. Combined, the two tests exhibited a diagnostic accuracy of more than 90% in terms of sensitivity and specificity. In addition, the new test eliminated the majority of false positive results produced by the PSA test.

According to Dr. William K. Oh, clinical director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana-Farber

These findings are very encouraging and suggest that this new test could spare tens of thousands of men from undergoing an unnecessary biopsy. However, until we can verify our findings, it is important to recognize that the PSA test, despite its limitations, is still the best test available for diagnosing prostate cancer at this time.”

Currently, cancer experts are divided as to the benefits of prostate cancer screening using PSA. Men who tested positive for elevated levels of PSA are usually referred to have a prostate biopsy. Almost two thirds of men who tested positive in the PSA test would test negative for the biopsy. The prostate biopsy as such is painful, invasive, and can lead to complication. This high rate of “false positive” PSA test results underscores the need for a more accurate method for detecting prostate cancer, according to Dr. Oh.

The blood RNA transcript-based test presents a hope that someday prostate cancer screening would become a routine procedure using a highly reliable method similar to the Pap smear for cervical cancer and mammography for breast cancer.

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Can a healthy lifestyle alter your genes and treat your cancer?

May 25, 2009 by  
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dna2 We’ve heard this statement of resignation before: “I can’t do anything about it. It’s in my genes.” Indeed, many diseases have been linked to genetics, including heart disease, mental illness, and cancer. However, this study by researchers at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California suggests that there might be something we can do after all, and that changing our lifestyle for the better can trigger changes in certain genes that otherwise make us predisposed to disease.

The researchers followed up 30 men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer and who decided not to undergo currently available treatments such as removal of the prostate gland, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. However, they opted for a major lifestyle change program which consisted of

eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products, moderate exercise such as walking for half an hour a day, and an hour of daily stress management methods such as meditation.

Indeed there were some expected health benefits observed after 3 months of lifestyle change therapy, namely:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved cardiovascular health

However, the researchers found some unexpected but nevertheless beneficial effects in the form of “changes in activity in about 500 genes — including 48 that were turned on and 453 genes that were turned off…The activity of disease-preventing genes increased while a number of disease-promoting genes, including those involved in prostate cancer and breast cancer, shut down.”

The researchers also performed prostate biopsies before and after the 3-month therapy and found observable clinical improvement.

It is incredible to see these changes in such as short period of time but of course the study only looked at patients with a type of prostate cancer that is less likely to be aggressive or malignant. However, the study demonstrates the undeniable health benefits that a healthy lifestyle can bring. The lifestyle change therapy is especially relevant to prostate cancer patients who are faced with a lot of uncertainties concerning the early screening tests (e.g. PSA) and treatments available. Many patients tend to opt of the so-called “watchful waiting” management. If this management approach is coupled with a lifestyle change therapy, the chances of beating prostate cancer will considerably increase.

According to lead researcher Dr. Dean Ornish

“‘In just three months, I can change hundreds of my genes simply by changing what I eat and how I live?’ That’s pretty exciting. The implications of our study are not limited to men with prostate cancer.”

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Know your interventions: focal cryoablation for prostate cancer

April 20, 2009 by  
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freezeThe recent contradictory results of two large scale studies that investigated the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening brought about the question of overdiagnosis and overtreatment. It also highlighted the need for less radical and minimally invasive treatment.

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer are usually recommended to undergo prostatectomy, which is the surgical removal of the prostate gland. No one can deny that this treatment is radical and highly invasive, and sadly, sometimes unnecessary. This is because it is extremely difficult to determine whether a prostate tumor is malignant or benign, slow-growing or aggressive and the only way to be sure is looking at the tumor in the lab, long after the organ ahs been removed.

Researchers presented a study at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 34th Annual Scientific Meeting that may just have the answer. Instead of bombarding tumors with radiation or chemotherapeutic agents, this new technique uses freezing technology. In the treatment of prostate cancer, this method is called “male lumpectomy” or “focal cryoablation.” Instead of surgically removing the entire prostate gland or subject the whole gland to radiation, interventional radiologists can localize the tumor and destroy it by freezing.

With cryoablation, interventional radiologists insert a probe through the skin, using imaging to guide the needle to the tumor; the probe then circulates extremely cold gas to freeze and destroy the cancerous tissue. This minimally invasive treatment targets only the cancer itself, sparing healthy tissue in and around the prostate gland rather than destroying it, as traditional approaches do.

This treatment method has the following advantages over traditional treatments:

  • Minimally invasive
  • Less traumatic
  • More likely to preserve sexual function
  • Less likely to interfere with urinary function
  • No major complications
  • Fewer side effects

The technique has long been used in breast cancer treatment where instead of radical mastectomy, surgical breast lumpectomy is now the preferred method. Unlike breast tumors, however, surgical lumpectomy of prostate tumors is technically not feasible. But the use of cryoablation technique seems to solve this problem. “Cryoablation spares as much as possible of the prostate gland and its neurovascular bundles, limiting the side effects of bladder control problems (incontinence) and erectile dysfunction (impotence) that result from more radical prostate cancer treatments.”

Many health experts advocate the “watchful waiting” strategy over traditional but radical prostatectomy. Advocates of focal cryoablation claim it, too, presents an advantage over the “watchful waiting” approach because all other treatment options are preserved.

The researchers further recommend that focal ablation should be complemented by the 3-D transperineal biopsy. Using 3-D mapping technique, this biopsy can detect very small tumors that can then easily be destroyed by cryoablation.

Indeed, this new development gives hope to men. Current guidelines recommend that men should get screened for prostate cancer at age 50 and above.

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Screening for prostate cancer: the pros and the cons

March 23, 2009 by  
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Resource post for March

yes_no_3In almost all diseases, screening and early detection is the key to management and cure. What used to be fatal diagnoses of late stage breast and cervical cancer have now become uncommon as more and more cases are detected early by regular screening.

In men, prostate cancer is the third leading cause of cancer mortality. The Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) in the UK gives us the following statistics:

As many as 80% of men develop prostate cancer during their lifetime, but in most cases it does not cause any ill health. Around 6% of men experience symptoms of the disease, while 3% of men die of prostate cancer.

Screening for prostate cancer is done in two ways, namely:

PSA test. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is protein biomarker produced by prostate cells. PSA is normally present in blood in low amounts. Cancerous (malignablood-testnt) prostate cells are expected to produce more PSA than noncancerous cells, leading to elevated PSA levels in the blood. PSA testing consists mainly of testing for levels of the antigen in a blood sample. If PSA levels are found to be high, other tests, including a prostate biopsy may be deemed necessary. Currently, the American Urologic Association, the American Cancer Society, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommend that all men 50 years and older should have annual PSA tests. Men with high risk profiles (e.g. of African American heritage, family history of prostate cancer) are advised to get tested starting at the age of 40.

Digital rectal examination. This examination is performed by a doctor by inserting a lubricated finger through the rectum. Through the walls of the rectum, the doctor can feel for structural abnormalities (bumps, growths, enlargement) in the prostate.

The usefulness of the PSA test in screening for prostate cancer has always been a subject of controversy. Some studies have produced inconclusive results regarding its benefits as well as its side effects. Potential risks include, unnecessary invasive testing (biopsy), and unnecessary treatment with serious side effects, and unnecessary expense. However, 95% of male urologists and 78% of male primary care clinicians admit to having had a PSA test themselves. PSA gives the potential benefits of catching cancer at its early stages, with better prognosis.

In the March issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, results of two studies on PSA screening were presented: one study conducted in the US, and one study conducted in Europe. Unfortunately, instead of resolving the controversy once and for all, the two studies actually produced contradicting results.

The American study:

Mortality Results from a Randomized Prostate-Cancer Screening Trial
This study is part of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. The study looked at 76,693 men from 1993 to 2001. doubt2About 50% of the participants had PSA screening every year for 6 years and digital rectal examination for 4 years. The other half did not undergo screening for prostate cancer. The PLCO results showed that after 7 to 10 years the incidence of prostate cancer was 116 per 10,000 person-years in the screening group and 95 in the control group. The incidence of death per 10,000 person-years was 2.0 (50 deaths) in the screening group and 1.7 (44 deaths) in the control group. Statistically speaking, there was no difference in cancer incidence and mortality between the screened group and the unscreened group.

The European study:

Screening and Prostate-Cancer Mortality in a Randomized European Study
The European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) started in the 1990s and followed up 182,000 men aged between 50 and 74 years old for about 12 years. The study had also two groups. In one group, PSA screening way conducted on average, once a year. The other group did not undergo PSA screening. The study was conducted in 8 European countries, namely Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland The results of the study showed that

PSA-based screening reduced the rate of death from prostate cancer by 20% but was associated with a high risk of overdiagnosis

Both studies will now look into the cost effectiveness and overall quality of life of the PSA testing. Although PSA testing itself is non-invasive, the subsequent confirmatory tests such as biopsy can be invasive and present with risks.

About PSA testing

Many expertbalance2s observe that PSA testing is not specific enough and has a 30% rate of false positives – e.g. cancers are non-aggressive and are indolent or slow-growing. It is sometimes difficult to decide which really cancer needs treatment which one doesn’t. While many would opt to be on the safe side and go for early treatment, the treatment comes with side effects such as impotence and incontinence.

A more conservative form of prostate cancer monitoring is called “Active Surveillance which aims to individualise the management of early prostate cancer by selecting only those men with significant cancers for curative treatment… Patients on active surveillance are closely monitored using PSA blood tests and repeat prostate biopsies. The choice between continued observation and curative treatment is based on evidence of disease progression during this monitoring.

It seems that prostate cancer screening by PSA testing have its pros and cons. In the end, it is always a question whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

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Killing two birds with one stone: lower your cholesterol, lower your prostate cancer risk

March 4, 2009 by  
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There are two big “C’s” – cardiovascular disease and cancer – that we are fighting today. A study published in the American Journal of Pathology reveals that high cholesterol levels not only cause atherosclerosis and heart disease but can also contribute to prostate cancer development and progression.

The link between cholesterol and cancer has been observed in laboratory mice fed with high fat, high cholesterol diet and treated with the cholesterol uptake-blocking drug ezetimibe. The researchers observed that the fatty cholesterol rich diets promoted tumor growth whereas the drug ezetimibe prevented the tumor growth while lowering cholesterol levels at the same time. Ezetimibe works by blocking the absorption of cholesterol by the intestine.

Thus, the study results suggest

cholesterol reduction, which is routinely accomplished pharmacologically in humans, may reduce angiogenesis, ultimately leading to less aggressive tumors.”

Prostate cancer is a very common cancer, affecting approximately 1 in 6 American men. Previous research studies have linked prostate cancer with the so-called typical “Western diet” which is rich in fat and high cholesterol. Progression of prostate tumors have also been linked to serum cholesterol levels.

Last December, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted that cancer will overtake cardiovascular disease as the world’s top killer in 2010. When the projected cancer statistics were published last year, it was noted that there are similarities between the two big C’s. The American Heart Association (AHA) issued a statement saying that

The risk and demographic factors they have identified as predictive of an increase in cancer deaths are the very same factors that are going to result in more cardiovascular deaths, too, so we are on the same track.”

Some of these factors, mainly lifestyle factors are:

  • tobacco use
  • high calorie, high-saturated and trans-fat diets

The fact that people in less developed countries are rapidly adopting the “Western lifestyle” listed above led to the prediction that cancer and cardiovascular disease will rapidly increase worldwide despite the fact that they are currently declining in the US and other developed countries

According to AHA President Tim Garner

The American Heart Association has been working for decades to move out of that ‘top spot’ of being the number one killer. It’s a distinction that none of us want to have. And unless we can do better in reducing these risk factors in the United States, it may be a long time before we can shed the title of number one.”

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.