Prostate Cancer Over-Diagnosed - Lots of Money to Be Made

People are getting unnecessary medicals test that cost a ton of money? No, you don’t say! A new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reveals large-scale screening for prostate cancer using the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test has resulted in mass over-diagnosis and over-treatment:

The death rate from prostate cancer has fallen in the United States, but not necessarily because of mass screening, study co-author Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Medical School's Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice contended. "There are a number of reasons why mortality might fall, but the most obvious is that we have better treatment," he said. "Even without early detection, I expect mortality would fall."

Results of a European study reported earlier this year indicated that "to save the life of one man, 50 must be over-diagnosed," he said.

Guidelines for screening for blood levels of PSA -- a protein produced by the prostate gland -- differ widely. The American Cancer Society does not recommend PSA screening. But, the society says a PSA test can be offered to men, starting at age 50, during a discussion with their physician. That discussion should also include an explanation of the potential benefits and limitations of such screening.

It all comes down to money! I asked Dr. Fuhrman about it and he said, “It’s true. Prostate cancer screening in general is flawed, but it is big business and the business of medicine trumps science because of the money to be made.” And Dr. Fuhrman insists the PSA test does not accurately detect cancer anyway.

An important thing to remember is prevention, prevention, prevention! Reports come out all the time highlighting the benefits of plant foods on prostate cancer prevention:

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Fruits and Vegetables May Be More Powerful Than We Think!

I’ve heard Dr. Fuhrman say that we still don’t know all the healthful properties of plant foods, and a new study seems to confirm that, claiming scientists underestimate the amount of nutrients in fruits and vegetables:

While the polyphenol content of fruits usually refers to extractable polyphenols, new research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that the non-extractable polyphenol content is up to five times higher than extractable compounds.

According to studies with apple, peach and nectarine, previous measures to quantify polyphenols may have been limited by the extraction technique.

"These [non-extractable] polyphenols need to be treated with acid to extract them from the cell walls of fruit in the lab," said lead author Sara Arranz from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in Madrid. "If non-extractable polyphenols are not considered, the levels of beneficial polyphenols such as proanthocyanidins, ellagic acid and catechin are substantially underestimated."

I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this and his quick answer was, “Repeat after me, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and beans! When you eat whole foods, you get much more than science has been able to measure so far.” And here Dr. Fuhrman explains why foods like green vegetables are so healthy:

While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients, the consumption of vegetables is more helpful in reducing cancer because they contain much higher amounts of cancer-protective compounds--especially green vegetables. Among these green vegetables, the cruciferous family has demonstrated the most dramatic protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, collards, arugala, watercress, and cabbage) contain a symphony of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer effects.

Isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are perhaps the best studied, have been shown to provide protection against environmental carcinogen exposure by inducing detoxification pathways, thereby neutralizing potential carcinogens. These vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity.

In related news, researchers determined nutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, like apples, broccoli and berries, help improve oxygen intake and exercise endurance.

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