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Expert dispels myths surrounding prostate cancer

Category: Prostate

Certain dietary supplements may actually have a negative impact on men's prostate cancer risk.

Some men may be concerned about finding the best way to reduce the likelihood that they will screen positive for prostate cancer through a blood test. However, there may be many misconceptions about prevention and treatment of this malignant disease, according to Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H., director of the Cancer Prevention Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Three major myths surround the consumption of specific nutrients as a way to prevent prostate cancer. Specifically, men may think that higher levels of lycopene, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium and vitamin E in their diets may lower their risk of the disease. However, studies have shown that there are no links between prostate cancer, selenium or lycopene, which is found in tomato-based products. Furthermore, high levels of omega-3s and vitamin E may actually elevate prostate cancer risk, according to Kristal.

Studies have also shown that, contrary to popular belief, there is also no link between prostate cancer risk and testosterone levels.

Two more misconceptions about this disease concern screenings and treatments. Some people think that a blood test for the prostate cancer marker PSA may not be helpful in determining which cases are treatable. However, this screen, when combined with biopsy samples, can help doctors form a thorough prognosis, said biostatistician Ruth Etzioni, Ph.D.

Furthermore, the rates of men who are overdiagnosed or overtreated after a PSA screening are much lower than previously estimated, Etzioni added.

More than 241,000 American men will be newly diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, as projected by the National Cancer Institute.

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