Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death for men behind lung cancer accounting for upwards of 30,000 deaths per year. Men around the age of 45-50 years old will routinely get screened for prostate health either be a digital rectal exam or, more commonly, a blood PSA test. Unfortunately, experts are coming to the forefront declaring the blood PSA test to be USELESS.
In fact, Richard J. Ablin (the discoverer of the PSA protein) in his book, The Great Prostate Hoax, claims that the PSA test causes more harm than it does good, and does not tell men whether they have prostate cancer or not.
Before I get into the truth about the PSA test, first we need to understand what the prostate is and why men have it. The prostate is a gland found in the pelvic region of men just below the bladder and it surrounds the urethra (a tube that carries urine and semen out of the body). Its main function is to secrete a fluid that nourishes, protects, and carries sperm.
The PSA test is used for 2 reasons. First as a screening test in healthy men to help detect prostate cancer. Second to aid doctors in treating men who already have prostate cancer and to identify the recurrence of prostate cancer following treatment. The results of the PSA test are considered normal if the value is below 4.0ng (although other experts would say below 2.5ng or even below 1.0ng). If a blood PSA test comes back out of the “normal” range, then a digital rectal exam is always mandatory. Also, often times your primary care doctor may refer you to a specialist for possible further testing including biopsy.
So what is so wrong with the blood PSA test? Well, the problem is that the PSA test is neither specific for prostate cancer, nor is it always increased in cancer. For example a score of 11 could reveal no prostate issues and a score of 1 has been seen in men with prostate cancer.
Another problem with the blood PSA test is that an abnormal finding unnecessarily creates emotional stress and concern for men and their families. When it comes to prostate cancers, cancer cells can either act like a turtle (growing very slowly) or a rabbit (quickly dividing). A PSA test will never tell you which one it is (or even if it is cancer). In fact, slow growing prostate cancers could take decades to have a negative health impact. Most men (98%) who have a slow growing prostate cancer will never die of the cancer.
Treatment options for prostate health can include active surveillance (no treatment unless their are significant changes to the patient’s health or their test results), pharmaceutical drugs, radiation, hormone therapy, or surgery to remove your prostate. Complications associated with treatment include things like incontinence, impotence, and neuropraxia (damage to the nerve bundle around the prostate) just to name a few.
Alternative treatments to improving and maintaining the health of your prostate should always begin with your diet. Remove sugar, conventional dairy and grains as these foods are inflammatory and contribute to an enlarged prostate. Also avoid alcohol and caffeine as these are natural diuretics and increase urinary frequency which can be a problem for men with and enlarged prostate.
Supplements to consider include compounds containing lycopene or taking extracts of stinging nettle which block testosterone proteins from binding to androgen receptors (proteins that cause prostate cancer cells to grow). Saw palmetto helps to reduce prostate enlargement by altering certain hormone levels. Beta-sitosterols can relieve urinary symptoms of benign prostate enlargement. Eating pumpkin seeds which contain phytosterols help to shrink an enlarged prostate.
While estrogen has been researched as a potential agent in the development and progression of prostate cancer, soy based foods which contain phytoestrogens have been proven to help to reduce testosterone production and limit the growth of blood vessels that form around tumors of the prostate.
Additionally, products like MORS help the body to improve methylation which is responsible for critical functions in the body such as repairing DNA, turning off bad genes, getting rid of toxins, and fighting infections. This is especially necessary for people with MTHFR gene mutations.
Lastly, chiropractic treatment can be very useful because it keeps the neurological function of the prostate optimal and maintains alignment of the pelvis and sacrum which, if misaligned, creates stress to the organs and tissues surrounding the prostate creating irritation and inflammation.