A recent study has shown that men’s health supplements are ineffective in prostate cancer, having no beneficial influence, such as combating the disease or diminishing radiation treatment side effects.
The research, conducted by experts at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, was presented on Sunday, October 18, at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology, in San Antonio.
Scientists reviewed medical recorders pertaining to 2,207 men, aged 36 and older, who had undergone intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) between 2001 and 2012, after having been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer.
It was determined that 1 in 10 of these patients had used one or several men’s health supplements (MHS) during treatment or in the 4 years afterwards. The pills had been labelled as “prostate health” or men’s formula”, and they were usually claimed to be “recommended by urologists” or “clinically proven”.
What was particularly worrying was that none of these roughly 50 different dietary pills had actually been verified in clinical trial or presented in a peer-reviewed journal. Also, on no occasion had they been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Moreover, many of their ingredients were extremely obscure, an average of 3 being easily identifiable while others were simply listed as “trade secret enzyme” or “other”.
The most frequently used compound was saw palmetto (in 91% of the cases), a plant extract which is often hailed as an alternative treatment for an enlarged prostate, although there are no studies to support this claim.
Researchers analyzed the potential effects of these supplements by reviewing follow-up data belonging to the study participants. It was discovered that 5 years after IMRT, MHSs had yielded no quantifiable benefits, related to lowering cancer-related mortality, reducing radiation adverse reactions, or preventing distant metastasis.
Although no negative effects had been reported, there was absolutely no amelioration either when it came to prostate cancer outcome.
“We suspected that these pills were junk. Our study confirmed our suspicion”, declared study lead author Dr. Nicholas Zorsky, resident physician in radiation oncology.
Moreover, the researcher pointed out that unfortunately around half of recently diagnosed cancer patients use dietary supplements, without their doctor’s recommendation or knowledge.
These pills aren’t as regulated as conventional ones, and following the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, responsibility for ensuring the safety of these treatments and labelling them accurately is placed exclusively on the drug manufacturers.
A large number of men suffering from prostate cancer self-medicate by taking these supplements.The patients’ hope is that MHSs will improve their condition, and that even if that fails at least there will be no harm in ingesting these tablets.
In fact, a slew of cases have been reported where the pills have actually been extremely damaging. Therefore, it is advisable not to resort to “men’s health” or “prostate health” supplements, no matter how accessible or promising they might initially seem.
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