As you know, most men who get prostate cancer as they get older die with it, not because of it. But overtreatment is a massive problem in today’s world. And men diagnosed with even the typical, slow-growing type of prostate cancer actually end up receiving unnecessary, overly aggressive treatments—ones that sometimes significantly increase a man’s risk of developing other devastating health problems, as a brand new study shows.
In this large, U.S.-government-funded analysis, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (my alma mater) followed just over 154,000 older men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Specifically, the researchers investigated the risks of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)—a kind of treatment that involves surgery, drugs, and/or injections to block testosterone production. Just over 62,000 participants received this aggressive treatment.
ADT increases Alzheimer’s risk by 45 percent
When researchers looked closely at the associated health risks experienced by the men who received ADT, they found something deeply disturbing…
It turns out, 13 percent of men treated with ADT were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) during the eight-year follow-up period. By comparison, only 9 percent of men who had another type of treatment or no treatment at all (also called “watchful waiting”) were diagnosed with AD.
And while that difference may seem slight, it actually represents a 45 percent increase in the risk of AD for men who received ADT.
The men who received ADT also had a 22 percent heightened risk of developing any type of dementia during the follow-up period. By comparison, just 16 percent of the men who didn’t receive ADT developed it. Which represents a significant 38 percent increase in risk.
Researchers still scratching their heads
It’s not exactly clear how blocking androgen hormones leads to AD and dementia. But researchers think it may relate to ADT’s already-established link to Type II diabetes and heart disease. (Some years ago, many forward-thinking researchers even began calling dementia, “Type III diabetes.”)
This link exists because your hormones influence metabolism. So, interfering with androgen hormones can impair many different aspects of healthy metabolism…resulting in Type II diabetes and heart disease.
Of course, I also blame cholesterol-lowering statin drugs for this effect, which are doled out like candy by mainstream doctors in this country. These drugs block cholesterol production—which, in turn, is critical for hormone function.
In the end, blocking hormones and hormone production in men does not appear to be a healthy approach for combatting prostate cancer. In fact, altering hormone production—for any reason—always comes with its risks. (Women who take hormone-altering birth control drugs face similar health problems.)
Opt for natural approaches to support a healthy prostate
As I explained earlier this week, prevention really is the key to avoiding these risks. And there are many natural approaches that can help safeguard your prostate well into your 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond. I went over some of them in Tuesday’s Daily Dispatch. So today, let’s add one more suggestion to the list…
Eat more vegetables.
You hear this recommendation from me quite a bit as it relates to your overall health and longevity.
Emerging research also shows that eating more vegetables helps support your prostate specifically. In fact, in a recent study, researchers found that men who ate the most leafy, green vegetables (like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mustard greens or collard greens) had an impressive 34 percent lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Plus, men who ate the most carotenoid vegetables (like the leafy greens, as well as bell peppers, carrots, squash, and tomatoes) had a similar reduction in risk.
These findings make a lot of sense to me. And it’s why I’ve always tried to eat plenty of greens and tomatoes, specifically, throughout the week. Tomatoes, while technically a fruit, are rich in the carotenoid called lycopene, which reduces prostate cancer risk.
I did the original research to discover lycopene’s role in food composition, and in human nutrition and metabolism, in the mid-1980s, when I was working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland.
To learn more about the many effective, natural approaches for supporting healthy prostate function, check out my new comprehensive, science-backed Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Perfect Prostate Health. To sign up or learn more about this innovative learning protocol, click here now!
P.S. Tune back in tomorrow to learn about a new urine test for prostate cancer that may help encourage men to opt for “watchful waiting” instead of more aggressive—and potentially dangerous—treatments.
“Association Between Androgen Deprivation Therapy Use and Diagnosis of Dementia in Men With Prostate Cancer.” JAMA Network Open, 2019;2(7):e196562. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.6562
“Impact of consumption of vegetable, fruit, grain, and high glycemic index foods on aggressive prostate cancer risk.” Nutr Cancer 2011; 63(6): 860–872. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2011.582224