Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Herbs For Man: Help for Prostate Cancer?

Soy, rich in estrogen-like isoflavones, was recently shown to inhibit prostate cancer in rats. A case study of a man suffering from moderately high-grade prostate cancer showed that these plant estrogens apparently caused some tumor regression.

In other news, a recent study of PC-SPES, a formula containing eight herbs, reported substantial estrogenic effects in eight patients suffering from prostate cancer. On the plus side, the phytoestrogenic activity of this herbal formula reduced serum testosterone and PSA (prostate-specific antigen, a "marker" for prostate cancer) concentrations in all eight men. The downside? All of the men experienced both breast tenderness and loss of libido, and one suffered a blood clot in a vein. The herbs included in this formula were chrysanthemum, isatis, licorice, reishi mushroom, Panax pseudoginseng, Rabdosia rubescens, saw palmetto, and skullcap. But researchers didn't identify the specific herb or herbs responsible for the effects seen in the study.

We need to wait for more research before we can recommend soy and other phytoestrogens for prostate cancer. Herbs with estrogenic activity may be useful in treating hormonally sensitive prostate cancer, but if used with conventional therapies may confound the results.

Saw palmetto extract is the best proven herbal remedy for this pesky condition. An extract of the fatty oils and steroids from the fruits of this plant is effective in a daily dose of 320 mg

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