Archive | September, 2012

Cranberry for a Healthy Prostate

According to a new study from the Czech Republic, cranberries may provide men’s prostates with protection from disease.  The British Journal of Nutrition published the results from a study conducted by scientists from Palacky University in Olomouc.  The team reported that six months of supplementation with 1,500 mg per day of dried powdered cranberries significantly improved measures of prostate health.

Several other significant improvements were reported in the Czech study, including improvements in the International Prostate Symptom Score, quality of life measures, urination parameters, and lower levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA).  The PSA is a marker used to screen for prostate cancer and for tracking the disease after its diagnosis.

Dr. Jitka Vostalova, head of the research team, explains, “Our trial is the first to evaluate cranberry in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) specifically in men with benign hyperplasia (BPH), elevated PSA levels and non-bacterial prostatitis.”  Dr. Vostalova continues, “Unlike currently used medication for prostatitis and LUTS, cranberry has no adverse effects.  Our findings may assist men suffering from LUTS, and also their clinicians, to decide on a treatment that is both inexpensive and natural, like cranberry.”

Researchers have already established a link between urinary tract health and cranberries, and they understand that the benefits are associated with cranberries’ proanthocyanidin (PAC) content.  In 2004, France approved a health claim for the North American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), which contains at least 36 mg of PAC, to “help reduce the adhesion of certain E. coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls.”  Scientists in France also agreed that this process is what fights urinary tract infections.

The study conducted in the Czech Republic extends cranberries’ effectiveness to prostate health, improves our understanding of cranberries, and indicates a unique role for the red fruit.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia and chronic prostatitis are conditions that prove problematic for the lower urinary tract system.  Both are non-cancerous, and BPH is a swelling in the prostate gland of older men.  In fact, BPH is quite common and affects millions of men in the United States over the age of 50, with an estimated aggregate cost of $1.1 billion annually.

“The results of the present trial are the first firm evidence that cranberries may ameliorate LUTS, independent of benign prostatic hyperplasia or C-reactive protein level,” note researchers of the study.  No longer is cranberry solely for women’s health, and men with prostate issues may now begin to see a market expansion of supplements that include cranberry in their ingredients.

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Prostate Surgery Causing Problems for Sexual Function

A new long-term follow-up study indicates that many men continue to feel distressed about their reduced sexual function years after prostate surgery.  In fact, the study reveals that sexual function is so important to them that adapting to a lower level of functioning is much more difficult than adapting to temporary urinary problems, explains Dr. Walter R. Parker and colleagues from the University of Michigan Health System in the Ann Arbor report.

Of the 434 men in the study with localized prostate cancer, all underwent radical prostatectomy, which is the complete removal of the gland.  This type of surgery is creating controversy among urologists and surgeons because it is commonly used to treat early-stages of the disease.  Men with early-stage prostate cancer are at a low risk that the disease will be fatal, yet the impact of the surgery is quite negative on the men’s quality of life.

Long-term quality of life is extremely important in men when they have a high likelihood of survival from prostate cancer.  Parker’s team at the University of Michigan developed a survey called the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (EPIC), which is designed to assess various aspects of quality of life after prostate cancer treatment.  This study is the first to compare men’s scores before the surgery and five years after the surgery.

The study shows that 38 percent of the men who had undergone radical prostatectomy reached baseline levels of urinary function 12 months after the surgery (despite an instantaneous, but temporary, decrease in urinary function and incontinence right after the surgery).  But by four years the improvement declined.

The study revealed even less promising results in regards to sexual function of the men.  Although sexual function began to improve after the surgery, only 28 percent had actually returned to the level of sexual function they reported before the surgery.  After three years from the surgery, 37 percent reported the same level of sexual trouble they reported before undergoing the surgery.  Only 11 percent of the men returned to their pre-surgery sexual function after two years from when they underwent the surgery.  This means that about 63 percent of the men were experiencing low sexual function after undergoing prostatectomy surgery.

The recommended recovery program for sexual function after the surgery includes Kegel exercises and prescription drugs.  These are intended to restore erectile function.  Yet studies have shown that many prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction leave the patients feeling sick and with many side-effects.

Researchers are initiating a “structured early and long-term erectile rehabilitation program to augment sexual recovery as early as possible, yet also convince patients to maintain their erectile rehabilitation efforts long-term,” states Reuters.

But something different needs to be included in these rehabilitation programs.  Many men are searching for alternative treatments for their erectile dysfunction and sexual function problems.  Natural supplements offer safe, often effective, and clinically proven results.  If you have undergone prostatectomy surgery and are considering natural supplements, contact your urologist for further information.

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September 2012
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