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Is There Anything Wrong with Taking Herbs, Vitamins or Supplements?

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Do you take herbs, vitamins, or supplements for your health or to help you with your prostate cancer? Studies have shown that at least 30 percent of men with prostate cancer do so in the hopes of helping them live longer or attacking their cancer. Is that a good thing to do? The answer is essentially unknown. Why? Because there aren’t any well-done studies proving that they are effective. Presently, these products have different rules governing their sales than conventional prescription drugs. They can be advertised as promoting general health but they are restricted from making any claim about their ability to treat a disease. That has not stopped some clinicians from recommending that prostate cancer patients take them. Those recommendations usually are based on laboratory studies using cancer cells grown in plastic dishes or on mice or rats growing a human prostate cancer.

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell if a similar effect will occur in men with this disease. Sometimes, epidemiological studies are published suggesting that men with prostate cancer who took a large amount of some agent had a better outcome from their disease than men taking only small amounts or none. Here too, these studies do not prove cause and effect; the only valid conclusion is that these agents may be worth testing in a proper clinical study to find out if a benefit will truly occur. There are other problems as well. The right dose is completely unknown. Also, without proper testing, patients can’t be sure that the supplements they take will not interact with any of the drugs they have been prescribed by their doctor to treat other illnesses. Sometimes the supplement can reduce absorption of a prescription drug making it less effective or it can increase absorption leading to more side effects.

A recent medical study found another reason to be concerned. The authors took 44 over-the-counter supplements containing a single agent and tested their ingredients. They were classified as authentic, meaning they contained exactly what was listed on the bottle, they could have substitutions meaning something else was present rather than what the label listed, or they could be contaminated meaning they contained the stated product but also contained other ingredients not listed on the label. What is disturbing about the findings is that 60 percent of the products did not contain exactly what was listed on the label. Although 48 percent did contain the active ingredient, one third of them also contained other contaminants. About 10 to 15 percent contained products that were unrelated to what was listed on the label.

For those individuals who insist on taking supplements despite their uncertain benefit, they should at least check to see if they have a label such as USP or Consumer Lab, which means that they have been independently checked to verify their content. Also, men should tell their doctor who is managing their disease that they are also taking supplements so they can attempt to find out if any of them will affect their prescription drugs. Perhaps, one day men can find out if supplements are really helpful for this disease. But until that time, they should realize that there could be a downside to taking them.

Last Updated:11/8/2013
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Date: 11.12.2018, 01:00 / Views: 61273