Vitamin E Supplement May Increase Risk For Prostate Cancer
Can a daily supplement of vitamin E increase men's risk of prostate cancer? A new study suggests it might. In 2001, researchers split 35,000 men into three groups—one took the mineral selenium, another vitamin E, and another a placebo—to see whether the supplements offered any protection against prostate cancer. When they didn't see benefits from either supplement in 2008, the researchers halted the study but continued to monitor the subjects. Four years later, they found that the men who had been taking 400 IU daily of vitamin E experienced a 17 percent higher rate of prostate cancer than the men in placebo group, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They haven't yet analyzed the effects of the supplemental selenium. The news comes after another study found that some supplements—including multivitamins, iron, B-6, and magnesium—may hike the risk of death in older women. The takeaway? "Consumers should be skeptical about claims that are made on bottles and elsewhere unless there is solid scientific evidence," Eric Klein, a urologist from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio who led the vitamin E study, told MSNBC.
11 Things to Know About Prostate Cancer
Men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer know choosing the right treatment can be difficult. Consult five doctors and you may well get five starkly different recommendations. An important report released in 2008 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has identified the source of the confusion: Reliable scientific evidence on the effectiveness and harms of the differing treatment options is sorely lacking.
There are a number of things men should be aware of before choosing a prostate cancer treatment, U.S. News reported in 2008. Anyone pondering any of the treatments the AHRQ report covers would do well to read its findings carefully. The authors sifted through 592 published articles on the effectiveness and potential harms of eight widely used treatment strategies: radical prostatectomy, external-beam radiotherapy (including intensity-modulated radiation therapy and proton beam therapy), brachytherapy, cryoablation, androgen deprivation therapy, watchful waiting, robotic prostatectomy, and high-intensity focused-ultrasound therapy. [Read more: 11 Things to Know About Prostate Cancer.]
Skip the PSA Test for Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is more common than breast cancer is in women and the risk of death is similar, but recommendations about treating breast cancer are relatively uncontroversial, while men are often left with difficult and confusing choices about both screening and treating prostate cancer. Several recent studies don't exactly clarify matters, U.S. News reported in 2010. One published recently in the British Medical Journal found that the widely used PSA test, which measures the amount of prostate specific antigen in the blood, not only doesn't save lives but also increases the risk of being treated for cancers that aren't life-threatening. Two other studies, one in BMJ and another in the journal Cancer, suggest that regular PSA screening may be useful—but only in men determined to be at increased risk of prostate cancer. [Read more: Skip the PSA Test for Prostate Cancer?]
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