Should men rely on PSA tests to detect prostate cancer?

Last year a government task force reversed five years of advice on whether men should have a prostate specific antigen (PAS) test to screen for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reversed itself, it said, and once again began advising men to be screened because new evidence indicated that routine PSA blood tests can slightly reduce some men’s chances of dying from prostate cancer and that drastic treatment can sometimes be avoided with close monitoring when cancer is detected.

But new research published this week in one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), debunks that argument. If orthodox medicine was actively working to muddle the issue of prostate health and the PAS test, it couldn’t do a better job of throwing men into confusion on the subject than this.

The study by a team of researchers at the University of Bristol and University of Oxford found that PSA screening could only identify low-grade prostate diseases and failed to detect some aggressive and lethal prostate cancers.

As Medical News writes, researchers conducted the largest-ever prostate cancer trial over a decade, studying 400,000 men between ages 50 and 69. The trial compared 189,386 men who had a single PSA screening with 219,439 men who were not invited for screening.

After a decade of follow up,  the total number of cases of prostate cancers reported in both the screening group and the control group were 8,054 (4.3 percent) and 7,853 (3.6 percent), respectively; however, the percentage men dying from prostate cancer in both the groups was 0.29 percent.

In other words, there was no difference in prostate cancer deaths between the tested and the untested group.

This has long been the consensus of those of us in the alternative medical community, and I’ve been writing about it for years. Research has long placed substantial doubts about the validity and reliability of the PSA test. Even so, conventional doctors continue to use the test and rely on it to determine male prostate health.

Here is the point: The literature says a low PSA number of about four indicates a normal or healthy prostate, whereas higher numbers put prostate health in doubt and even suggests malignancy. A higher number, of course, calls for biopsy and may lead to prostate surgery.

Yet some men may have prostate malignancy with very low PSA numbers or no malignancy with very high PSA numbers.

This makes the whole test doubtful. I personally would not rely on the PSA test and would certainly refuse prostate surgery based on it — or even biopsy at my age, 85.

Many men have been ruined because of prostate surgery. At the very least, all considerations of prostate surgery should be preceded by a detailed understanding of the pros and cons of relying on the PSA test.

Researchers participating in this latest trial agree.

“The results highlight the multitude of issues the PSA test raises — causing unnecessary anxiety and treatment by diagnosing prostate cancer in men who would never have been affected by it and failing to detect dangerous prostate cancers. Cancer Research UK is funding work that will allow us to follow the men for at least a further five years to see whether there is any longer-term benefit on reducing prostate cancer deaths,” said Professor Richard Martin, lead author of the study.

“Our large study has shed light on a highly debated issue. We found that offering a single PSA test to men with no symptoms of prostate cancer does not save lives after an average follow-up of 10 years,” Martin said.

Integrative medicine specialists have told me to a man that a high PSA reading does not indicate cancer. Instead it indicates that something is going on to inflame the prostate. That something could indeed be cancer, but it is much more likely that a high reading is due to a recent infection or a completely benign enlargement of the prostate gland.

The literature claims that many or most men age 50 and older have dormant prostate cancer and that most never become active.

There are quite a few herbs and other plant extracts that help with prostate health, including pumpkin seeds, saw palmetto and stinging nettle. But the two most important things for your prostate are exercise and nutrition.

To prevent prostate enlargement and cancer, you should strive to be as active as possible. At least walk as much as possible. Walking often has the same health benefits as running, without the inflammatory side effects. A study last year performed in Sweden that suggested more intense exercise can cut your risk of prostate cancer in half. Further, the researchers discovered that exercising with vigor for 60 minutes inhibited the growth of existing cancer cells by over 30 percent.

I believe that prostate health is also based on diet plus whether one is a smoker or heavy drinker. It’s obvious that unhealthy lifestyles will lead to unhealthy outcomes.

Zinc is your most basic prostate food, along with another essential mineral, selenium. They work together to maintain cellular health and are must-have for men’s health because they reduce aromatase, and enzyme you want to reduce because it converts testosterone into estrogen, putting you on the path to reproductive cancers.

Spinach, beans, red meat, pumpkin seeds and oysters all have plenty of zinc in them, and for selenium, tuna and Brazil nuts should give you all you need.

Here’s the thing about zinc that is not well known but important. It can interfere with the absorption of other minerals. That’s why you want to take zinc separately, preferably before you go to bed so that you have a whole night of sleep to absorb it, and before taking any other supplements during the day.

Fatty acid and stinging nettle (Cataplex F and Palmettoplex from Standard Process) are fundamental, in my view, to aid prostate health. Many chiropractors carry these products. Or use Google to search for Standard Process to find someone near you who sells the product.

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