Prostate cancer is the leading cancer in men; one in every six will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. In developed countries it is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in men. An estimated 12 million new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed each year.
Although screening may help in the early diagnosis of prostate cancer, treatment options are very limited. Moreover, any type of cancer treatment has serious side effects and does not provide a cure. An additional barrier is the very high cost of these treatments. Currently, the US annual expenditure for treating prostate cancer is $8.1 billion. This figure is expected to reach $18.6 billion by 2017.
Surgery has limited use. Hormonal treatment, which blocks the action of testosterone, increases the risk of impotence, hot flashes, breast growth, osteoporosis and liver complications. Radiotherapy has varying success and can induce new cancers.
Natural approaches open up new exciting possibilities in treating prostate cancer. We studied the effects of a specific combination of micronutrients including vitamin C, green tea extract, selenium and others on prostate cancer growth and its ability to spread. We demonstrated that dietary supplementation with this micronutrient combination can decrease the growth of prostate tumors in mice by almost a half (47%). This significant reduction of tumor mass was accompanied by a lower ability to form blood vessels in tumors, consequently restricting the nutrient supply to cancer cells. As a result, we observed a much slower multiplication of prostate cancer cells in tumors when animals were supplemented with this nutrient mixture compared to the controls1.
Cancer is a life-threatening disease because it can overpower the body through its spread and metastasis to other organs. There is no satisfactory conventional treatment available for metastasis and the five-year survival rate of metastasized prostate cancer is merely 28%.
Metastasis is possible with the help of specific enzymes that cancer cells use to destroy the surrounding connective tissue barrier, thereby paving the way for its spread. The activity of specific collagen digesting enzymes, such as MMP-9 and uPA, has been associated with the aggressiveness of cancer. Our earlier studies demonstrated that the micronutrient combination is able to inhibit secretion of these enzymes by 100%, and parallelly increased production of their natural inhibitors. In addition, these micronutrients can strengthen the connective tissue thereby limiting the spread of prostate cancer cells.
Micronutrient synergy, unlike an individual nutrient or a drug, can simultaneously affect multiple mechanisms that cancer uses to overpower the body. This strategy limits the ability of cancer to adapt and escape the treatment, which is often the case with pharmaceutical approaches. The ongoing debate about the most cost-effective choices for prostate cancer should include the evaluation of micronutrient synergy as a safe, affordable and effective treatment possibility for millions of men worldwide.