The recently halted study regarding prostate cancer and vitamin E and selenium is going to lead to many men wondering what they can do to help prevent prostate cancer, especially after their doctors get wind of the headlines and advise them to stop their nutritional supplements that were once thought to be beneficial. Oh Boy. The study, which began in 2001, is called SELECT and stands for Selenium and vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial. Basically it was shut down because it concluded that not only does taking those supplements not help prevent prostate cancer but taking just vitamin E may increase the risk of prostate cancer and taking just selenium may increase diabetes. Their disclaimer is that this may “just be due by chance” but either way, they stopped the study and advised the men to stop taking their supplements, or placebos.
So here are some facts on the study:
1) The study was done using a high dose, SYNTHETIC, ISOLATED type of vitamin E (400 IU of dl-alpha-tocopherol-acetate). How anybody who knows anything about nutrition can use this type of vitamin E is beyond me. I wrote about the dangers of this type of vitamin E many years ago, which can be reviewed on this site; it’s called Vitamin E – What You Need To Know. A NATURAL, MIXED, and usually low dose (<100 IU) is often very beneficial.
2) The selenium dose was 200mcg a day, which is a reasonable amount, but not typically one that should be taken for a prolonged period of time. The SELECT study folks do mention that there are four other studies on selenium and diabetes – one shows an increase, one shows a decrease, and two showed no association between selenium and diabetes. I think we’ll call this one a draw…
And here are some facts on prostate cancer and what you can do to help prevent the problem:
1) Prostate cancer is now the most prevalent cancer in men; it is said that 80% of men over 80 have prostate cancer.
2) Many men have an enlarged prostate gland, which is called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. This is said to be “normal” as the prostate increases in size with age. Yet those who say it is normal also say they don’t know why it occurs. So I’ll call this common, definitely not normal.
3) There is never, ever, going to be one magic vitamin, mineral, or pill of any kind that is going to prevent prostate cancer, or any disease for that matter. It is always about the health of the individual and what their nutritional concerns are – not what someone else is taking.
4) Vitamin E and selenium together exist in nature. One cannot be found without the other, with the highest natural source being wheat germ oil. Although some individuals sometimes need one and not the other to balance an imbalance, they typically work better together, not isolated from one another.
5) Think of prostate cancer like breast cancer in women, they are very similar problems. Often this is an estrogen problem as there are estrogen hormone receptors on the prostate as there are in the breast tissue. When a man is under stress for whatever reason, testosterone levels will quickly be used up and also converted to estrogen and/or the testosterone metabolite, DHT. Both are strongly implicated in prostate cancer.
6) Saw palmetto, pumpkin seeds, zinc, and other nutrients help block the conversion of testosterone into DHT. High levels of DHT are also often implicated in hair loss in both men and women.
7) Antioxidants, such as vitamin E (low dose, natural whole sources), and vitamin C (a natural dose, not high levels of ascorbic acid), and minerals such as magnesium and zinc help stop the breakdown of testosterone into estrogen.
8) Essential fats, like the omega 3s fish oil and flax oil, as well as omega 6s black currant oil and sesame seed oil, are often needed to help balance and build hormones.
9) Excess body fat will not only store estrogen but will also produce more estrogen in the male body. This will increase prostate cancer risk. Often excess body fat, especially around the waist, is due to carbohydrate intolerance. If your waist-to-hip ratio is >0.9 then you need to take action to lower it.
Signs of prostate trouble:
1) Weak urinary stream
2) Takes you a while to start urinating
3) Frequent urination – or always feeling like you’ve got to go
4) Waking up a night often to urinate (many people have this problem which can further be read about in my sleep article)
5) Hip and low back pain (the muscles supporting the lower back and the hips are directly related to the prostate). If you find yourself with a chronic problem in that area, especially a “hitch in your step”, it may be due to a prostate problem
6) Blood in the urine is also a warning sign (I hope you already know that isn’t normal)
** If you are having any of these problems no matter what your age, or if you are over 50 with no problems, it is recommended that you have the standard medical screening tests done for the prostate. That would included a blood test to check your PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level, and the DRE (digital rectal exam). However, as of October 2011, these tests are being called into question as often they lead to unnecessary treatments.