Worldwide, 16 million men have prostate cancer. In the United States, around 200,000 new prostate cancer cases are diagnosed every year. Not surprisingly, prostate cancer is the second most prevalent cancer type among American males. Although only 10% of prostate cancer patients die from the disease, the number is still high to make it the third leading cause of cancer–related deaths in the U.S. Because of this, efforts by scientists have been relentless to search for better understanding, treatment, and prevention of prostate cancer. Here are 5 of their recent discoveries which may prove helpful in dealing with this fatal disease.
1. Pomegranate Juice can fight prostate cancer.
The pomegranate fruit originated in Iran and India but is now widely grown in many parts of the world including the United States. It can be eaten raw, made into a jelly and even wine, and used for culinary purposes. But recently, another use for this fruit has been uncovered by a research team from the University of California Los Angeles campus: its juice can slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
The researchers had 50 subjects which they asked to drink one 8 ounce glass of pomegranate juice daily over a period of three years. These subjects are prostate cancer patients who have been treated with surgery and radiation. The results showed that after drinking pomegranate juice, the levels of Protein-Specific-Antigens (PSA) in their blood stabilized. The normalized PSA levels also remained stable four times longer than usual. The researchers said that this balanced level may contribute to delaying the spread of Prostate cancer cells in the body. Any means to control the extent of prostate cancer is critical because once the cancer cells proliferate to other parts of the body, the patient's chances of survival is slim.
2. Too much milk can increase your prostate cancer risk.
As they say, anything excessive is harmful, even something as nutritious as milk. This is the conclusion of a Canadian study last year as published in the Prostate Journal and reported in the dailymail.co.uk. The study says that men who consume four 200 ml glasses of milk every day double their risk of developing prostate cancer. This is because milk has cow hormones similar to Growth Factor 1 which may nourish prostate cancer cells and therefore encourage their development.
3. If your index finger is longer than your ring finger, you're less likely to get prostate cancer.
Yes, you can tell if you're more predisposed to prostate cancer just by looking at your fingers. At least, that's what the scientists at the University of Warwick and the Institute of Cancer in the U.K. reported in the British Journal of Cancer. From their research, they've found out that a man with a longer index finger than his ring finger will have 33% lower risk of developing prostate cancer than someone whose index finger is shorter than his ring finger or have index and ring fingers of the same length. If this man is less than 60 years of age then his chances of developing prostate cancer is lesser by 87%.
The research involved 500 prostate cancer patients and 3,000 health controls. The researchers said most of their subjects had shorter index fingers than their ring fingers and about one fifth had index and ring fingers of similar length.
The explanation for this, according to the researchers, is that babies in the womb are exposed to testosterone. The more exposure to testosterone, the shorter their index fingers will be. Hence, if they have longer index fingers, it means they have been less exposed to testosterone. This makes them more resistant against prostate cancer since testosterone is said to encourage growth of prostate cancer cells. The scientists added that the same genes in humans control finger length and the development of the reproductive system, of which the prostate gland is part.
Professor Ros Eeles, senior author of the report, said his team's discovery can be used in making the selection of men for prostate cancer screening more accurate when used in combination with family history and age. This facilitates the detection of more prostate cases at a stage when they're still treatable.
4. Hard exercise may help you survive prostate cancer.
If you're diagnosed with prostate cancer and you exercise regularly and vigorously, you'll slow down the progression of your disease and therefore prolong your life. This is the finding of a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of California in San Francisco.
The said research is the first to examine the link of physical activity with the overall mortality of prostate cancer patients. It analyzed records of 2,705 men with prostate cancer who reported how much physical activity they did weekly. These activities included cycling, running, walking, etc. The researchers said any form of exercise of any difficulty and intensity can increase overall survival. However, they emphasized that those whose exercise routines are vigorous have greater chances to live by 61% than those with easier and less frequent exercise regimens. An exercise is vigorous if it is intense and performed at least three or more hours every week.
5. Prostate cancer can now be detected even in non-tumor tissues.
Less painstaking biopsy may now become possible. A new study determined that doctors need not hit a cancer tumor to find cancer cells. The results of the research published by the American Association of Cancer Research stated that gene changes were found in the surrounding tissues of tumors which may indicate presence of prostate cancer cells.
This is a good news to men who are required to undergo prostate biopsies because biopsy limited to the tumor can miss up to 30% of prostate cancers and are often repeated within the year due to unclear results. But with the option of analyzing the nearby tissues too, researchers said, diagnosis can be much more accurate thereby allowing patients to have earlier follow-up biopsies and choose alternative treatments.
The research led by Dr. Dan Mercola of the University of California at Irving examined 364 samples from men of all races that have or survived prostate cancer. He and his team however recommended that further studies should be done to confirm their findings. Once confirmed, their conclusions will also contribute to the better understanding of how cancer cells spread to other parts of the body.