Fighting Back


A new weapon in the fight against prostate cancer

greentea.jpgThere may be some good news in the fight against prostate cancer. According to a recent study undertaken by doctors in Italy, antioxidants found in green tea may be effective in preventing prostate cancer in men at high risk for the ailment.

The study found that after a year of taking a supplement containing 200 milligrams of green tea catechins three times daily, only one man in a group of 32 who were at a high risk actually developed prostate cancer. In the same study, nine men in a high-risk group of 30 developed prostate cancer after taking a placebo. I personally believe that further research with a larger study group is warranted before you go out and supplement with green tea.

Green tea has long been known for its positive health qualities, being rich in antioxidants that fight free radical oxidation in the body. According to the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, “Consumption of green tea has been reported to afford protection against carcinogenesis of human esophagus, forestomach, duodenum, colon, liver and lungs.”

Prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most common type of cancer affecting men. If diagnosed in its earliest stages it can be treated, but if not it can be deadly. Prostate cancer is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths annually among men in the United States.

Earlier studies showed that green tea appeared to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth in laboratory animals, but it was unclear what effect, if any, it would have on humans. Doctors who conducted the study expressed optimism over the results; however, they advised caution in interpreting the results too literally. They and other doctors interviewed for a recent article said they would not recommend green tea or green tea supplements as a treatment for prostate cancer without further studies being undertaken.

The article stated that the average person would have to consume 12 to 15 cups of green tea a day to be equivalent to the amount of green tea supplements used in the study. That, of course, would be impractical. And though there are commercially available green tea supplements that are more concentrated than green tea itself, they may contain caffeine or other potentially harmful additives.

Other recent studies suggest that the trace mineral selenium, in combination with other cancer-fighting agents, may also be effective in the battle against prostate cancer. However, as in the case of green tea, more study is needed on this as well.

So, while prostate cancer continues to be a serious health problem for men, there is hope on the horizon for finding a cure. Until then, the best thing a man can do is to see his doctor and get regular prostate cancer screenings at the appropriate stages of life. Forewarned is forearmed.