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 I PROMISE
your wife will be begging for more!
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.
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License