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the Message Continues ... 10/131
Newsletter for July 2012
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by Lucy Tashman
A growing body of evidence suggests that over-screening and invasive diagnostic and treatment methods do not always translate into fewer cancer deaths.
Frequent cancer screening, while widely advocated by many doctors as a way of detecting cancer in its early stages, is not without its downside. While it is true that screening detects small tumors, the events that follow may or may not enhance the patient’s health. Often, patients are subjected to more radiation or even to surgery to further diagnose and treat the tumor, leaving the body damaged and weakened.
In the case of prostate cancer, recent studies show that the slow growing tumors often targeted as early cancer would have been better left untreated, as many conventional treatment methods have serious side effects, such as impotence, compromise of the genito-urinary tract, and anal damage.
A recent large scale, long term study conducted by National Cancer Institute researchers and published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that regular prostate cancer screening had no effect on the incidence of death from the disease. Researchers followed more than 75,000 male patients over a period of 10 years, half of whom were screened once a year for prostate cancer using the PSA test. The other half of the study group continued with regular health care, but was not screened. Analysis of the study’s results showed that the overall rate of prostate cancer death among participants "was very low and did not differ significantly between the two study groups."
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Preventing Cancer Naturally
While modern medicine is very aggressive in finding and treating cancerous growths, almost no attention is given to preventative measures such as dietary and lifestyle changes, which when implemented faithfully, are almost guaranteed to reduce the risk of cancer. New research is revealing the benefits of dietary substances such as lycopene (found in high concentrations in papayas, pomegranates and tomatos), cruciferous vegetables and Vitamin D in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
In current medical practice, little consideration is given to the long term effects of drug therapy, and alternate therapies are almost never used. For example, poor diet over many years often results in obesity, which heightens the risk of high cholesterol levels and hypertension. For this condition, statin drugs are often prescribed, which have recently be identified with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Many other prescription medications are well known to cause weight gain, which in an of itself causes serious health problems.
Several herbs and natural substances have been investigated for their potential in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. They include:
More on this topic
Do Frequent PSA Tests Reduce Cancer Deaths? Prostate Cancer Screening - The Debate Continues 6 Natural Supplements to Treat an Inflamed Prostate Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is very beneficial for the treatment of all kinds of prostate conditions, and is considered to be anti-carcinogenic. Ashwagandha strengthens the immune system, and has been proven in laboratory research to reduce the size of tumors. Several recent studies have been published which suggest that Ashwagandha may play an important role in preventing prostate cancer.
Shilajit, a naturally occurring mineral pitch, is considered by many herbal and naturopathic practitioners to be effective in treating prostate conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Shilajit is given alone or as part of Chandraprabha vati, a preparation well-known to reduce an enlarged prostate gland.
Triphala is an herbal preparation made from equal parts of three potent fruits: Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellerica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula). This preparation is a powerful rejeuvenating rasayana. According to accounts in the ancient Ayurvedic text, Caraka Samhita, a person who consumes Triphala will "live for a hundred years without any sign of decrepitude."
Diet and Cancer Prevention
Nutrition is essential to good health and should never be underestimated. Wherever possible, animal fats, sugar, and unhealthy contaminants such as pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals should be eliminated. To reduce the risk of prostate cancer, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens should be eaten regularly. Lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes, pomegranate juice and papaya are also strongly recommended. Omega-3 fatty acids found in flax seed oil, salmon, and other foods have been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, while saturated and animal fats may raise it.
Exercise and stress-reduction techniques have also been proven to reduce the risk of all forms of cancer, and should be incorporated into everyone’s daily routine.
Thomas H. Lee, M.D., Philip W. Kantoff, M.D., and Mary F. McNaughton-Collins, M.D., M.P.H. Screening for Prostate Cancer; New England Journal of Medicine – Volume 360:318; March 26, 2009
Ravikumar Aalinkeel, Zihua Hu, Bindukumar B. Nair, Donald E. Sykes, Jessica L. Reynolds, Supriya D. Mahajanand Stanley A. Schwartz Genomic Analysis Highlights the Role of the JAK-STAT Signaling in the Anti-proliferative Effects of Dietary Flavonoid—‘Ashwagandha’ in Prostate Cancer Cells; eCAM Advance Access published online on January 10, 2008
Acharya SB, et al. Pharmacological actions of shilajit. Indian J Exp Biol. 1988;26:775-7.
Kaviratna AC and Sharma P (translators), Caraka-Samhita, Second Revised Edition [volume 3], 1996 Indian Books Centre, Delhi
Sandhya, T. et al. "Potential of traditional ayurvedic formulation, Triphala, as a novel anticancer drug", Cancer Letters, Volume 231, Issue 2, 18 January 2006, Pages 206-214.
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