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Mailbag: Family History of Prostate Cancer, What to Take?

February 11th, 2009

Like father, like son? Family history of prostate cancer makes that a question worth asking.

Like father, like son? Family history of prostate cancer makes that a question worth asking.

Dear AllStarHealth,

I’m a 48 yo male in good overall health. My late father had prostate cancer and his last few years were miserable. I’m quite concerned that I might develop it too.  We currently take a multi and fish oil and I also take a prostate product that has about 20 things in it. Is this enough or should I be taking something else that can help protect me?

Thank you,

Paul Martoccia

Nutley, NJ

Dear Paul,

No matter what their recommendations, no one can promise you that you will or won’t develop prostate cancer. Yet there are at least a few things worth considering since evidence suggests they all have a protective role either directly or indirectly.

Zinc: Make sure you’re getting plenty of the mineral zinc.  Some experts on male health such as Dr. Eugene Shippen recommend  substantially more than the RDA for zinc supplements, from 50-100 mg per day in 2 divided doses, depending on whether or not symptoms of prostate enlargement or prostate disease are present.

Vitamin D: Evidence continues to grow that vitamin D has a major role to play in preventing cancer and other conditions by controlling the growth and function of cells. Consider 3-5000 IU per day.

Plant sterols: Plant sterols such as those found in saw palmetto extract and other products have been proven clinically effective in some conditions like BPH or prostate enlargement.   Whether or not they have a role to play in preventing cancer remains to be seen.  They can be very effective for controlling some of the symptoms of BPH and some men with BPH do go on to develop prostate cancer.

Lifestyle factors are important too. Stop smoking and lose weight if necessary, limit alcohol, and avoid processed meats like bacon and cold cults.

Just as important as these nutritional factors is the need to get your prostate health evaluated while you’re still healthy. Doing so gives your doctor a huge advantage by allowing him to spot trouble early on, and preserves the widest range of treatment alternatives for you if it does.

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