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If your wellbeing is affected by prostate cancer, those supplements you’re taking won’t do anything to help. This is according to a new review of past research, the results of which are published in the journal Maturitas, which found that though dietary supplements are popular among prostate cancer patients, they are not effective treatments for the disease.
Researchers from the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in Daejeon looked at the data of eight randomised controlled trials, as these types of studies are considered the gold standard of medical research. The investigators discovered that non-herbal dietary supplements and vitamins didn’t significantly change the severity of people’s cancers, or improve patient wellness. According to the review’s lead author Dr. Paul Posadzki, ‘The main message would be that no miraculous supplement for [prostate cancer] exists.’
Despite a lack of evidence that dietary supplements improve prostate cancer wellness, it is estimated that between a quarter and three quarters of patients take them. There have been studies looking into the potential of supplements, such as selenium, to prevent cancers, but these have come up short. Therefore, the researchers reviewed trials that looked at minerals, vitamin D, antioxidants and plant compounds known as isoflavones and phytoestrogens, to get a better picture of whether supplements are any good at treating prostate cancer.
The trials were conducted in the Netherlands and the US, and provided information on 478 prostate cancer patients. When the researchers looked at the studies as a whole, they found that, overall; six trials showed that the supplements didn’t give patients benefit over patients taking a placebo or another type of supplement. Two studies did show a significant drop in prostate specific antigen levels, but neither of those studies included more than 50 people and both were sponsored by supplement manufacturers.
Dr Eric Klein, chair of the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, commented, ‘I think if you survey the literature on nutritional supplements and cancer, there is almost no evidence that they’re helpful. In fact, some people have found that there is evidence of harm. I think that until we get a better understanding of the biology of how supplements affect normal and cancer cell growth, we should not invest in this kind of research.’