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Nutraceutical Intervention and Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a significant health issue. It is estimated that one in six American men will eventually be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer killer in men, trailing the death rate due to lung cancer. In total, more men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer than women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Resulting in large part from hormonal imbalance, prostate cancer in large part a preventable disease state.

The incidence of microscopic prostate cancer is around 80% in men between the ages 70 and 80 years old, 40% in men between 50 and 60 years of age, and around 34% in men between 40 and 50 years old. Microscopic prostate cancer is present in around 25% in men between 30 and 40 years old.


After the age of 21, estrogen levels in women decrease with time. In men, however, estrogen levels will increase with age. At the age of 40 years, total estrogen levels in an average male equals or exceeds the female of the same age, and with increasing age, male estrogen levels will significantly exceed those in found in females.  These increased estrogen levels cause many of the age-related medical complaints in men: erectile dysfunction, prostatic enlargement, hair loss, depression and weight gain.


Testosterone levels peak, in both men and women, and testosterone levels decrease, linearly, with age.  Testosterone levels will decrease by approximately 2% per year between the ages of 25 and 50.


Dihydroepinandosterone (DHEA) is the most prevalent hormone in human physiology. DHEA is a precursor to progesterone, testosterone, androstendiol, and estradiol.  DHEA levels decrease predictably with age, and with decreasing DHEA levels, testosterone levels tend to drop, as well.  Low levels of DHEA has been identified as factor in depressive illness, low levels result in loss of libido in men and women, and low levels of this  hormone are related to the development of dementia.

The Ratio Effect

Steroidal hormones act to trigger genetic switches in cell nuclei.  The effector sites at the cell nucleus most often involve multiple hormones, some stimulatory, some inhibitory.  The ratio of these hormones, relative to each other, triggers cellular events.  That is, the ratio of testosterone to estrogen, or estrogen to progesterone determines cellular effect.  It is for this reason that the ‘level’ of the hormone is only significant in relation to the other hormones that affect the same genetic trigger. In short, it is the testosterone to estrogen ratio that will indicate the state of balance.  Other hormones, such as pregnenolone, androstendione, thyroxin, and cortisol are important, and attention to these is important, as well.

Useful Non-prescription Intervention

  • Curcumin – 500 to 750 mg twice, daily. Curcumin is a yellow pigment in Turmeric (Curcuma longa).
  • Genistein - 200 mg daily.  This is an isoflavone that inhibits the growth of cancer cells and acts as an antioxidant. Genistein, however, is an inhibitor of thyroid function, and its use is best avoided.
  • Green tea extract (GTE)- Rich in l-theanine and ECGC,  cancer cell growth is inhibited and GTE induces apoptosis (programmed cell death).
  • Lycopene - 10 mg daily. A carotenoid found primarily in tomatoes
  • Melatonin – 10-20 mg daily. Enhances immune function, inhibits cancer cell growth and potentiates the beneficial effects of chemotherapy/ radiation while reducing their side effects.
  • Selenium - 400–800 mcg daily. Very effective antioxidant.
  • Vitamin D-3 (cholecalciferol)-  Selective estrogen receptor blocker.   D-3 reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 50% when taken in minimum dosage of 2,000 IU daily.  Must be taken simultaneously with an oil capsule, as Vitamin D-3 is lipid soluble. Cholecalciferol inhibits cancer cell growth and may induce apoptosis.
  • Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) - 800 IUs daily will inhibit cancer cell growth and promotes normal cell division. Dosages above 800 IU/daily may be associated with increased risk of hip fracture.
  • Zinc Chelate – 15 to 50 mg daily. Zinc should be taken carefully, as overuse can be toxic.  Copper must be taken concurrently with zinc, in a 30-40:1 ratio.
  • Indole-3-carbinol
  • Saw Palmetto Extract - Testosterone levels can be increased with the proper use of Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) - Inhibits 5-alpha reductase (converts testosterone [T] to dihydrotestosterone [DHT], an androgen 5 times more potent than [T], and this drives the growth of prostate cancer cells).
  • D-glucaric Acid – Removes excessive estrogen due to inhibition of beta-glucoronidase activity. Estrogen esters remain bound for biliary excretion, and the total estrogen load on the body is reduced.
  • Silymarin – Increases excretion of estrogen esters through the biliary system and it may inhibit beta-glucuronidase, thereby limiting the enterohepatic recycling of hormones like estrogen. Silymarin inhibits the peroxidation of lipids within the hepatic cell and decreases the synthesis of cholesterol by the liver. Silymarin suppresses tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-activation of certain nuclear transcription factors and induces various cyclin-dependent protein kinase inhibitors, thereby acting to inhibit cellular inflammation and inhibit carcinogenesis.

    David S. Klein, MD, FACA, FACPM