PSA stands for Prostate-Specific Antigen. PSA is produced by
all of the cells in the prostate gland. It doesn't matter whether the cells are
normal or cancerous. They all produce PSA. Malignant cells, however, leak
roughly ten times as much PSA into the bloodstream than normal cells. Since the
prostate generally increases in size as men age, the PSA levels will also
increase as one gets older.
believe that biopsies should be performed on any male who has a PSA level of 4.0
ng/ml or higher. However, according to Dr. David Williams of Alternatives, the
following are the maximum PSA levels that most men should have. If most
urologists followed these guidelines, there would be far fewer biopsies:
40-49 years of
age 2.5 ng/ml
50-59 years of
age 3.5 ng/ml
60-69 years of
age 5.0 ng/ml
70-79 years of
age 6.5 ng/ml
Since PSA testing began, the apparent incidence of prostate
cancer has doubled in the United States. It's not that the cancer rate is
increasing, it's just that we are detecting more cancer. But better detection
has not resulted in more cures. The mortality rate among prostate patients has
not decreased at all. And small elevations in PSA levels have become a gold mine
for urologists, resulting in thousands of unnecessary biopsies and treatment
programs each year.
Some scientists believe that PSA screening may be unable to detect prostate
cancer because more men who were screened died from prostate cancer compared
with those who were not. The conclusion is controversial because it is based on
an original research paper which had suggested that PSA screening could reduce
death from prostate cancer by 69%. But some experts to whom the paper was
presented said the research was flawed.
Only 23% of the men invited to join the screening program actually did so,
but the researchers had not allowed for this. In addition, 982 of the 8,137 men
in the screening group had been placed in the unscreened control group. When the
data was reanalysed, the death rate among the screened group was higher, said
Peter Boyle from the European Institute of Oncology in Milan.
[Lancet, 1998; 351:1563]
PSA levels are only a guideline. About 75% of men with
prostate cancer have correspondingly elevated levels of PSA (the cancer may be
too small to increase PSA levels).
When PSA levels approach 10.0, there's about a 50% chance of
finding prostate cancer. At that level the cancer will generally be confined to
the prostate gland. Even when PSA levels are between 10.0 and 20.0, cancer is
not always present. However, when it does exist at these PSA levels, cancer is
more likely to have spread to the lymph nodes.
Also keep in mind that a
slow-growing prostate cancer may not require any treatment, whereas a
fast-growing cancer may need more aggressive treatment.
In large part due to poor diet and the lack of exercise,
prostate problems continue to be one of the most common problems in older men.
It's also one of the reasons for the daily use of flaxseed.
Dr. Demark-Wahnefreid at Duke University recently reported
that the compound called lignan in flaxseed slows prostate tumor growth
by binding to the male hormone testosterone and removing it from the body. This
action is important because the body normally converts testosterone to 5
dihydroxy-testosterone, which promotes prostate cancer. (Urology
Flaxseed has also been shown to have an anti-cancerous effect
on breast cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma. You can get flaxseed from most
health food stores, or by mail from Mountain Home Nutritionals at 800-888-1415.
In addition to flaxseed, the substance lycopene, found
primarily in cooked tomatoes (tomato paste), watermelons, and pink grapefruit,
can reduce PSA levels and slow prostate cancer. You can also get lycopene in
supplement form. The suggested dosage is 15 milligrams twice daily. (Cancer
Epidemiol Biomarkers Pre 07;10:861-868)
Increased insulin levels also promote the conversion
of testosterone, which explains why diabetics and people with diets high in
sugar have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
Another underutilized compound that is effective at treating a wide variety
of prostate problems is the bioflavonoid quercetin. In one recent study,
a dosage of 500 milligrams of quercetin twice daily proved very effective in a
period of just two weeks. In 11 patients suffering from prostate pain, nine
experienced complete relief of their symptoms and the other two reportedly
improved. In nine other patients with non-bacterial prostate inflammation, six
had complete resolution of their problem and one improved. In 19 patients who
were experiencing chronic bacterial prostatitis, eight experienced complete
remission and one showed significant improvement. Out of this entire group,
regardless of the problem, there was a complete resolution of symptoms in 59
percent of the cases. For the cases with no infection, the success rate was 75
percent. (J Am Nutraceutical Assoc 99;2(2):36-39)
Onions are a good source of quercetin, but it is also available as an
individual supplement. In most cases, quercetin seems to work better with
vitamin C. If you have recurring or chronic prostate problems that don't seem to
respond to traditional therapies, a two-week trial of quercetin could be a
Another even more potent substance to help stop the spread of cancer is
modified citrus pectin.