Prostate Cancer Treatment
Prostate cancer is a common cancer type to impact men in their 60s and 70s. For most men, it is not a life threatening illness when treated correctly. A naturopathic oncologist can play many roles in prostate cancer treatment, including:
- Active Surveillance or Watchful Waiting
- Treatment Support
- Survivor/Post-Treatment Care
Prevention: Risk Factors
There are several risk factors for prostate cancer that can be reduced by using naturopathic medicine. These risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- A diet that is high in animal fat and low in dietary antioxidants
- Physical inactivity
- Chemical exposure, such as Agent Orange
A Naturopathic Approach During “Active Surveillance” Can Include:
- Reinforce Prostate Cancer Prevention Diet
- Hormone regulation
- Reduce inflammation
- Encourage healthy cell differentiation
- Increase cell repair and protection
- Stimulate immune function
- Identify and treat chemical exposures
- Stress reduction
Diet and Prostate Cancer
Anyone that eats a diet with >30% fat (the average for American males) is at higher risk for developing prostate cancer than men whose diet contains <30%. There is a difference in the risk based on your intake of animal fats versus plant-based fats. Animal fats include butter and any fats in meat. Plant-based fats can include olive oil, coconut oil, nut butters, and avocados, amongst others.
Studies are now pointing towards Omega 3 fats protecting against prostate cancer. This is why eating a pescatarian diet is commonly recommended to our patients on a watchful waiting treatment plan. You can learn more about a pescatarian diet here.
If you continue to eat red meat, we recommend avoiding meat that has been treated with hormones and growth factors. These hormonal treatments might increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
What should I eat for Prostate Cancer Prevention?
- Leafy greens: high antioxidant potential, also high in essential minerals
- Lycopene: tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, any vegetables or fruit that are red or purple in color
- Vitamin E: nuts and seeds
- Selenium: whole grains (like bulgar, rice, millet) and Brazil nuts
- Cruciferous Vegetables: support healthy liver function, support hormonal regulation
- Omega 3 Fats: walnuts, fatty fish. For examples, check out this website.
One of the diets that has been studied for reversing prostate cancer cell growth is The Spectrum Diet by Dean Ornish. We recommend this to our patients as a great place to get started.
Chemical Exposures and Prostate Cancer
Some of the chemicals linked to prostate cancer are Agent Orange, cadmium, and organopesticides. Addressing chemical exposures is an important piece of a good treatment plan. The first step is to measure these chemicals in your blood stream and urine.
Once you know exactly which chemicals might be impacting your health, the next step is to get rid of them. There are many methods of depuration and detoxification that can help release these chemicals from your system. These treatment methods can include sauna, supplements, hydrotherapy, and chelation.
Natural Hormonal Regulation for Prostate Cancer
Our main concern with prostate cancer treatment is properly reducing testosterone levels. This is because testosterone is responsible for prostate growth. When you decrease testosterone, the growth of prostate cancer slows down. Some natural therapies for reducing testosterone include:
- Saw palmetto
- Pumpkin seed
- Plant B-sterols
- Sex hormone binding globulin
- Flax seeds
Inflammation and Prostate Cancer
In prostate cancer, there is a link between inflammation and tumor growth. There are higher levels of inflammation around tumor cells than normal cells. Inflammation has tumor-promoting characteristics, including:
- Growth and survival factors
- Promotes blood vessel formation
- Increases lymphatic vessel growth
- Coats tumor cells, allowing travel through blood vessels and lymph system
Some natural therapies for reducing inflammation with prostate cancer treatment include:
- Fish Oil
- Green Tea
- Zyflammend by New Chapter
Cell Differentiation and Prostate Cancer
Differentiation is the normal process through which cells mature so they can carry out the jobs they were meant to. Cancer cells are defined as being poorly differentiated, or poorly matured. There are nutrients that can help induce healthy differentiation, including vitamin D3. Before starting a vitamin D supplement, ask your doctor to check your blood levels of vitamin D. This will help make sure that you take the right dose.
Vitamin D and Prostate Cancer Treatment
This widespread vitamin deficiency is important to address for prostate cancer treatment and prevention. In addition to helping with cell differentiation, vitamin D can help reduce IGF-1, PSA, and Metastasis. It has been helpful even in hormone refractory prostate cancer for reducing growth and sensitizing the cells to treatment again.
DNA/Cell Repair and Protection for Prostate Cancer
Some of our favorites for protecting the DNA and Cells for prostate cancer prevention include pomegranate, green tea, selenium, lycopene, vitamin E, and milk thistle.
Pomegranate Juice and Prostate Cancer
A small study looked at the impact of drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a day. The results were pretty amazing! It was shown to reduce PSA and inhibit NfKb (something that increases cancer growth).
Immune Function and Prostate Cancer
Immune surveillance is important in preventing cancer cell growth. When it comes to prostate cancer, mushrooms could increase apoptosis (or death) of prostate cancer cells. AHCC is a mushroom extract that has been shown in cell cultures to increase Natural Killer cell activity.
Natural Support after Prostatectomy (Post-Surgical Healing)
Our main goal after surgery is to provide the nutrients necessary to heal. Most of those nutrients go towards making collagen and connective tissue. In order to heal after surgery, you need plenty of protein, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, lysine, and bioflavanoids.
One easy way to get all these nutrients? A smoothie. Here’s a healing smoothie recipe:
1 scoop of protein powder
1 cup organic yogurt
1 cup frozen berries
1 Tablespoon nut butter (preferably sunflower for extra vitamin E)
½ cup spinach
½ cup liquid of choice (nut milk, regular milk, or water)
Blend together and enjoy.
Reduce Side Effects from Hormonal Therapy with Prostate Cancer
One of the side effects of hormonal suppression therapy is the reduced bone density. To reduce this side effect, I recommend vitamin D, calcium, melatonin, vitamin K, and soy to my patients. Also adding weight bearing exercise may be beneficial in improving bone density.
Another side effect from hormonal suppression can be blood sugar problems. These blood sugar issues have been linked to risk of recurrence, too! So, it’s super important to get your blood sugar under control. We try to regulate blood sugar with diet and exercise first, but sometimes it can require another medication or supplement to bring glucose into normal ranges.
Natural Therapies to Support Prostate Radiation
If you are considering radiation therapy to the prostate, it could be important to consider natural therapies that can reduce side effects and possibly improve the effectiveness of treatment.
Some studies have shown that genestien (an extract from soy) could help make prostate cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy. That means that the radiation could potentially work better.
Radiation can commonly cause skin changes and irritation. Some of my favorite therapies for these changes can be fish oil as well as a calendula sitz bath.
Radiation can also cause bladder and urethral irritation. A common recommendation to reduce irritation is 8 ounces of cranberry juice. Sometimes we will also recommend to our patients an herbal tea that contains slippery elm and marshmallow.
Lastly, radiation can cause some side effects to the GI tract. Research has shown that probiotics and l-glutamine could help reduce diarrhea, constipation, and other GI side effects from radiation.
Looking to use natural medicine on its own or in combination with other therapies? I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Give us a call so we can talk about all your treatment options and find the one that fits you the best.