The Doctors column: Four hopeful, helpful tips to fight against prostate cancer
December 11, 2012
About one man in six will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime. It’s the second leading cancer killer among men, and this year alone, more than 28,000 will die from it. Those aren’t the most comforting of numbers, but there’s reason to hope. Here are four out-of-the-lab findings:
Reconsider supplements. Men who undergo hormone therapy for prostate cancer (to stop testosterone production, which prostate cancer cells need to grow) are at risk for osteoporosis, but taking calcium and vitamin D supplements may be making their condition worse. According to researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the supplements do not prevent bone loss and may boost odds for heart disease and aggressive prostate cancer. Previous research has shown vitamin E and folic acid supplements increase prostate cancer risk.
Ask about aspirin. A daily dose may help men treated for prostate cancer live longer, suggests research. The protective effect was strongest among patients with a high-risk form of the disease. The results are preliminary, so talk to your doctor before adding aspirin to your regimen.
Rethink red meat. A recent study found that pan-frying meat – red meat in particular – may raise prostate cancer risk by up to 40 percent. Scientists suspect the link is a result of cancer-causing chemicals that form when red meat is cooked at higher temperatures for longer periods of time. Braising produces fewer of those chemicals; so does steaming, poaching, stewing and microwaving.
Consider ‘watchful-waiting.’ Also called active surveillance, it means to forgo medications, surgery or radiation and instead “watch” the cancer, and “wait” for changes. Because prostate cancer often grows very slowly, some men may never need treatment. In some cases, doctors will monitor it closely with tests and ultrasounds. In others, the approach relies more on changes in symptoms to decide whether treatment is needed. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found men with early-stage disease who opt for watchful waiting are as likely to survive as men who undergo surgery. Experts agree active surveillance is not the best choice for everyone with low-risk cancer.
The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check http://www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.