More Prostate Palaver

Health is important. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death. It should–if you value your life at all–be of the gravest concern, yet there are those who spend more time selecting their brand of toothpaste than the providers of their health services. When my doctor prescribes medication for me I head to the internet to find out as much as I possibly can about it–side-effects, interactions and so on that may have a bearing on my particular circumstances and that my doctor may have missed–before I take it. But a lot of people will take anything recommended by some quack or other without devoting a single particle of thought to it. They see something like the following and rush out in their ovine flocks to enrich the person who penned the following:

Don’t let your prostate problems get the better of you…
Reclaim your sexual freedom
and endurance…
your wife will be begging for more!
Dear Friend,
Your doctor says it’s inevitable….

It’s the awkward part of getting older.

Your sexual vigour and desire drops… Your hair turns grey… Wrinkles form… Your eyes get weaker…

Your bones get brittle.

That’s just how it is, right?


Remember when you first met your wife?

When you simply could not keep your hands off each other. Every flat surface was an invitation you couldn’t resist and you had enough stamina for days.

Your wife might’ve had a lot to complain about at the time but it certainly wasn’t in that department… Do you remember how that felt?

The truth is that sex is an awesome, exciting, exhilarating and fun part of life. And as men it’s a big part of our identity.

And we’re supposed to just give that up? Who made these rules anyway???

There are thousands of quacks queuing up to take advantage of the fears and insecurities of the citizenry at large, but surely no one would spend a cent on anything this person is peddling? All the red flags are there: the garish fonts, the childish lines of punctuation marks, the fact-free, rhetorical style. No specific studies are cited that would support the claims made (although he does mention without a specific citation an alleged Harvard study, but more about that later), merely a few anecdotal endorsements. The purveyor of this nonsense is a person calling himself Dr Allen Spreen. He is hawking a herbal preparation that he alleges is good for the prostate gland and sells for the staggering sum of R349.95 (~$45 US) for a month’s supply. As soon as his pamphlet was brought to my attention I headed off to quackwatch and sure enough his newsletter, To Your Health, is listed as a “nonrecommended periodical”.

He alleges that his preparation, which contains Zinc, Vitamin E and Lycopene will fix any and all prostate problems. Let’s hand over to him again:

Three sexual health boosters that could make your wife veeeery happy…

After treating so many men suffering from the sexual side effects of prostate problems I decided to pack Ultimate Prostate Defence with the three most powerful “man building” nutrients and minerals:

Manhood builder #1 – Zinc
More than 60% of us have a zinc deficiency! And that spells trouble… Your semen has 100 times more zinc than your blood – and your prostate has the highest concentration of zinc in your body. (See the sexual connection?)

Manhood builder #2 – Vitamin E

You’ve probably heard a lot about the power of vitamin E. It’s one of the most effective and versatile antioxidants on the planet.

Together with Beta Sitosterol, vitamin E targets dangerous free radicals and provides your prostate with a shield of protection – sheltering it from the ravages of ageing, oxidation and external threats.

Manhood builder #3 – Lycopene
A recent study from Harvard University revealed that men who ate foods high in lycopene lowered their risk of prostate health issues by 45%!

Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red colour. Its antioxidant power is double than most – and 10 times stronger than vitamin E! And its link to your prostate is undeniable.

Are his claims borne out by the research? Well, the answer to that is an unqualified no. There is research showing that each and every ingredient in his snake oil may cause more harm than good. Let’s start with Zinc. Here’s part of the extract of a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

The high concentration of zinc in the prostate suggests that zinc may play a role in prostate health. We examined the association between supplemental zinc intake and prostate cancer risk among 46 974 U.S. men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. During 14 years of follow-up from 1986 through 2000, 2901 new cases of prostate cancer were ascertained, of which 434 cases were diagnosed as advanced cancer. Supplemental zinc intake at doses of up to 100 mg/day was not associated with prostate cancer risk. However, compared with nonusers, men who consumed more than 100 mg/day of supplemental zinc had a relative risk of advanced prostate cancer of 2.29 (95% confidence interval = 1.06 to 4.95; Ptrend = .003), and men who took supplemental zinc for 10 or more years had a relative risk of 2.37 (95% confidence interval = 1.42 to 3.95; Ptrend

Now let’s move on to Lycopene. This is part of an article on the website of the Harvard Medical School entitled Lycopene and tomatoes: No shield against prostate cancer which couldn’t possibly the Harvard study I referred to earlier because its findings are diametrically opposed to those claimed by Spreen.

Men who have been adding lycopene, a nutrient found in tomatoes, and other carotenoids to their diet in the hopes of staving off prostate cancer might want to reconsider. According to a study published in September 2007, which included almost 2,000 men in eight countries, carotenoids such as lycopene do not cut the odds of prostate malignancy. While researchers found that high levels of carotenoids could reduce by 60% the risk of an existing tumor progressing to advanced-stage prostate cancer, they noted that carotenoids had no effect on the rate of localized, early-stage disease.

And now part of the extract of a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Conclusion Dietary supplementation with vitamin E significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men.

Wow. That’s pretty unequivocal. I would implore anyone receiving a pamphlet of this sort to rather approach their GP or clinic if they suspect a problem than buy any of this dangerous and (at best) useless rubbish.

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License

7 Responses to More Prostate Palaver

  1. Beechmount says:

    ……There are thousands of quacks queuing up to take advantage of the fears and insecurities of the citizenry at large, but surely no one would spend a cent on anything this person is peddling?…..

    Whoever falls for anyone of these thousands of “miracle cure adds” on the internet or any other media has to be either very stupid or very desperate or both. The old saying “there’s a fool born every minute” still holds thrue. They walk amongst us!


    • Beechmount says:

      that’s “true”, not “thrue”–sorry for the error.


    • Mark says:

      Desperate perhaps, but I think it’s more a lack of training in critical thinking skills rather than raw stupidity that causes people to fall for this sort of scam. It has a veneer of scientific respecability in that it purports to come from a doctor, and there’s some pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo to bewitch the unwary, who just take what they are told as authoritative and do not question either the wisdom or motives of the source. They will say to themselves, “Gee, maybe it will work–let’s give it a whirl. there’s not much to lose.” But, unfortunately, there can be a great deal lose.

  2. Con-Tester says:

    This reminds of a communiqué that got sent around at work some years ago about the risk factors, diagnoses and prognoses associated with prostrte cancer, an error that was repeated several times. I replied to the sender, a well-meaning HR busybody, as follows: “If prostate cancer gets the better of you, you may well soon find yourself prostrate.”

    I’m not sure that my meaning actually penetrated.

  3. Aleisha Verdiguel says:

    Lycopene can be found in tomatoes and i specially love tomatoes because of its nice taste. Lycopene can prevent cancer.;’;”.

    Kind regards

  4. Bradford Mick says:

    A new Finnish study suggests that high blood levels of lycopene, unlike those of other antioxidants, may be associated with a significantly reduced risk of stroke. Vegetables, especially tomatoes, are a significant source of lycopene.:

    Please do check out our new web blog

  5. Doug says:

    Personally, I have a VERY difficult time believing anything that comes from the multi-billion dollar health care industry in this country. Cancer survival rates are approximately the same as they were in the 1930s in the U.S. We are number eleven in cancer survival, worldwide. cancer is a 300 billion dollar per year industry. The disease really developed momentum after WWI when we began learning to preserve, transport and market foods by giving them a shelf life while agricultural chemicals became the norm. Now, Monsanto (who developed Agent Orange for the US Government) has been given the green light to silently slip genetically modified foods into our food supply without labeling it and the US Govt says you can’t sue for damages !! Organizations have been formed to discredit anyone who dares to encourage natural healing while our medical industry has made a mockery of healing. Europeans (who incidentally have the highest rate of cancer survival and the lowest incidence in the western world) call our slash, burn, poison approach to cancer a “barbaric” approach to healing. Natural cure clinics are lined up at our borders, offering real healing to cancer patients and their very real success numbers are forbidden data in the US. Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski was mercilessly attacked by the FDA for having the gall to heal cancer in the USA (watch “The Burzynski Movie on the internet) and finally defeated them in court. His defense was to simply fill the courtroom with his surviving patients in the face of corrupted FDA lawyers. The lowest cancer rate of any group is that of vegans – so why are they discredited and why does the beef council fund the FDA so heavily? We know that dairy products induce all sorts of dreaded disease, yet the dairy council also greases the right palms and advertises without resistance. Quack Watch is yet another entity that seems to close the door on ANY doctor or entity that promotes healing methods that do not pay off to the right pocket.

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