Reuters reports that a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology surveyed over 600 prostate cancer patients and found that robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy, compared with traditional open surgery, showed no difference in problems, such as urinary incontinence and sexual problems, after the surgery. Continue reading
You may be hearing that vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer. This was a surprise to many doctors, but is actually based upon reliable evidence. Continue reading
ABC World News reported, “An earthquake in the debate over men and prostate cancer” regarding a “simple blood test called a PSA. Twenty million men use it to find out if they show a sign of risk, yet today, a government task force is saying healthy men should skip that test, arguing that the treatment that often follows the test may not be worth the consequences.” Continue reading
TV and print media have extensively covered the US Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF) decision to give a “D” rating to PSA testing. What’s this mean for men? I’ll cover this controversy in the next few blogs. Continue reading
In the past there have been conflicting data on the health benefits and risks of drinking coffee — however, in general, the studies have been far more positive than negative. And now, a new study finds that men who drank six or more cups of coffee per day over nearly two decades were 60 percent less likely to develop more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Continue reading
It has a sleek, curvy bottle, features the juice from an exotic fruit and has a catchy name, but according to both government and consumer agencies, POM Wonderful is a drink that’s not as wonderful as its manufacturer claims. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently issued a complaint against the makers of POM Wonderful 100 Percent Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements, accusing the company of making “false and unsubstantiated claims” in its advertisements that these products will prevent or treat heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. Here are the details from ABC News:
POM Wonderful is just the most recent drink to feature dubious nutritional claims, and experts say while these drinks may offer some health benefits, consumers should be wary of products that make promises that sound too good to be true.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit consumer group, praised the FTC’s actions and called out POM Wonderful’s makers for using shoddy science to back up the disease-fighting abilities of its products.
“We looked at the POM studies, and some don’t meet the criteria of a high school science fair,” said Bruce Silverglade, director of legal affairs at the center. “One study has no control group and another study involved 10 people.”
Silverglade said POM Wonderful does not adhere to guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Administration.
“The FDA has specific regulations since 1993 that require companies to get pre-market approval before making such claims,” he said. “Had POM’s research actually been credible, the company could have followed the law and petitioned the FDA for approval of the disease prevention claims.”
In response to the complaint, POM Wonderful called the FTC’s allegations “unwarranted” and said it stands by the research, which, it says, supports the benefits of its products.
“We do not make claims that our products act as drugs. What we do, rather, is communicate, through advertising, the promising science relating to pomegranates,” the company said on its website. “Consumers and their health providers have a right to know about this research and its results.”
Nutritionists say POM juice does offer health benefits, but not to the extent the company claims.
“It’s really good, high anti-oxidant juice,” said Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “It’s not easy to get pomegranates, so it’s a good source.”
But he added that when a product’s advertisements claims to have proof of some benefit, consumers should be wary of it.
“Proof is a loaded word and a difficult one to use when talking about scientific literature,” he said.
“There’s information out there on POM juice that’s promising, but no studies that confirm a cause-effect relationship,” said Stacey Nelson, manager of clinical nutrition at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Makers of Vitaminwater Sued for Misleading Claims
Vitaminwater, a flavored water made by Coca-Cola’s Glaceau subsidiary, also recently came under fire for its nutritional claims.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a class-action lawsuit last year against Coca-Cola over Vitaminwater’s use of terms such as “defense,” “rescue,” “energy,” and “endurance” in its advertisements, as well as for saying the product can lower the risk of eye disease, boost immunity and improve joint health.
Silverglade said Vitaminwater’s claims are not as deceitful as POM’s, but they are still inaccurate.
“They make a number of health-related claims concerning certain vitamins and minerals in the product that are half-truths, and half-truths are misleading under the law,” Silverglade said.
Nelson said Vitaminwater does contain some vitamins and minerals, and these vitamins and minerals have health benefits, but that doesn’t mean drinking Vitaminwater will provide those benefits.
“They’re taking information about some of the ingredients that are there in tiny doses and running to the end zone and creating a whole claim,” Nelson said.
In fact, there’s a cheaper — and perhaps more effective — way to get the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals.
“Is it any different than taking a multivitamin with water? No. A vitamin may even give you more nutrients,” said Ayoob.
Ayoob and Nelson both added that Vitaminwater, with the exception of Vitaminwater Zero, has a lot of sugar and calories.
The Coca-Cola company called the lawsuit “ludicrous.”
“Consumers can readily see the nutrition facts panels on every bottle of Glaceau Vitaminwater, which show what’s in our product and what’s not,” the company wrote in a statement. “The success of Glaceau Vitaminwater is due in large part to consumers looking for a product like this to help support their healthy, active and on-the-go lifestyle.”
Coca-Cola sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, saying “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” A judge ruled against the beverage giant this past summer.
SoBe Beverages Settled Over False Claims in 2005
Five years ago, SoBe Beverages agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the state of Connecticut. The state accused the company of falsely stating that its drinks protected consumers from colds and offered other healthy advantages.
SoBe, owned by PepsiCo, said it would no longer make the claims and agreed to pay more than $200,000 to the state.
Consumers Should Be Wary
“Always ask questions. Ask a doctor, ask a dietician,” said Nelson. “Go to the FDA site or go to a medically proven site to find out more about a claim.”
Experts stress that drinks like POM and Vitaminwater, like everything else, should be consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
Perhaps most importantly, consumers should realize that they’re not going to improve their health by drinking a certain kind of juice.
“There are no ‘magic bullets’ out there,” said Ayoob. “Mother Nature doesn’t work like that.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that “for the first time,” active surveillance is “being endorsed for large numbers of men by a major medical organization: the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of 21 leading cancer centers across the US.”
According to “new guidelines,” the approach is recommended “for men deemed to have ‘very low risk’ prostate cancer and a life expectancy of less than 20 years,” as well as for those men whose “prostate cancer is considered ‘low risk’ and” have a “life expectancy” of “less than 10 years.”
In other words, “almost 40 percent of the 192,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year could qualify for active surveillance under those standards, said Dr. James Mohler,” part of the “committee that prepared the guidelines.”
Researchers in Illinois conducting active surveillance studies.
The Chicago Tribune reported that last year, NorthShore University Health System began “recruiting men who are at least 60 years old with low-grade prostate cancer (Gleason score of 6 or less) and relatively low PSA scores (less than 10)” to find out which patients “can be managed safely with active surveillance.”
Adhering to “a slightly different protocol,” University of Chicago researchers are also “tracking about 50 men with low-grade, low-risk prostate cancers.”
Meanwhile, a third trial, in which University of Toronto researchers “examined 453 men undergoing active surveillance over a period of up to 13 years,” revealed that “men’s risk of dying from prostate cancer during the study was one percent, while their risk of dying from another condition was 16 times as high,” according to results “presented last year at meetings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.”
When it comes to prostate cancer, the times they are a changin’.
There’s good news for men concerned about developing prostate cancer. The AP reports, “Men may protect more than their hearts if they keep cholesterol in line: Their chances of getting aggressive prostate cancer may be lower.” Want to learn more? Then, read on as scientists at two institutions have detailed the research that led them to that conclusion in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.
According to the AP report, even though the papers “are not definitive and have some weaknesses,” they do “fit with plenty of other science suggesting that limiting fats in the bloodstream can lessen cancer risk.”
HealthDay reported that NCI investigators reviewed “data from a study that has followed more than 29,000 Finnish men for 18 years,” finding that “cholesterol levels below the generally recommended 200 milligrams per deciliter were associated with an 18 percent higher overall risk of cancer.”
Two studies looked at cholesterol in cancer finding that low cholesterol is a symptom rather than a cause and that low cholesterol may actually lower a man’s risk of high-grade prostate cancer.
In the first study, researchers observed over 29,000 men for 18 years for cancer and found no association unless they included men who were diagnosed right away after enrolling in the trial.
These men likely already had cancer and their low cholesterol was an effect and not a cause, since all the other men didn’t develop cancers at a rate different from men with normal or high cholesterol.
The second study found an association between low cholesterol and lower than average risk for high-grade prostate cancer, however we need to see the results of a clinical trial looking at the effects of lowering cholesterol on cancer risk before there will be recommendations for drugs like statins to be used preventively.
An editorial in same issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention concluded, “Results from the two analyses of cholesterol and risk of cancer published in this issue . . . clearly show that low total cholesterol is unlikely to increase risk of cancer.”
The editorial also makes this interesting observation: “If results of such observational studies support the hypothesis that low cholesterol inhibits prostate cancer progression, then it would raise the question of whether prostate cancer patients choosing active surveillance, rather than immediate treatment, could reduce their risk of disease progression by using statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs. This question, however, would need to be answered by a randomized trial.”
So, the bottom line?
Guys, get a lipid profile and if it’s abnormal do what you must do to get it normal — whether that’s changing your nutrition, increasing your physical activity, or using cholesterol lowering drugs.
Ladies, get the guys you love to have a lipid profile. If it’s abnormal, follow the advice above.
In my newest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, teach what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine. Here’s the fourth installment of this ten-part series. Continue reading
Men who drink beer or liquor on a regular basis may face a heightened risk of several different types of cancer, a new study suggests. But, wine does NOT appear to have this risk. Continue reading
Most of my male patients are confused about all the recent information for and against prostate cancer screening using the PSA blood test. What’s the latest information and how should you react to it?
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“Many men do not need yearly (prostate cancer) screening,” but each man’s risk should be individually assessed, said Dr. Peter Carroll, who led the panel that wrote the American Urological Association’s new guidelines that were issued this last Monday at the group’s annual meeting in Chicago.
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Two large, long-awaited studies have failed to produce convincing evidence that routine prostate cancer screening significantly reduces the chances of dying from the disease without putting men at risk for potentially dangerous and unnecessary treatment. Does this information surprise you as much as it seems to be surprising the news media and some doctors? It shouldn’t.
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Two eagerly awaited studies of a total of 250,000 men have raised new questions and concerns about the risks and benefits of the prostate-specific antigen test, or PSA. USA TODAY talked to experts about the studies, the test and why it’s controversial. It thought you’d appreciate this information.
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According to the LA Times, “a spate of high-profile studies published in the last few years shows that a variety of popular supplements — including calcium, selenium, and vitamins A, C and E — don’t do anything to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, or a variety of cancers.” And, the New York Times is reporting, “In the past few years, several high-quality studies have failed to show that extra vitamins, at least in pill form, help prevent chronic disease or prolong life.” But what about multivitamins? Are they helpful or harmful
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