If you walk into your doctor’s office with symptoms of an enlarged prostate, chances are you’ll walk out with a hormone-based drug.
These medications are a standard treatment. They include the drugs Avodart and Proscar. But a new study shows that when you take them, it’s likely you’ll only be trading one health problem for another.
The research shows the medications can lead to type 2 diabetes, high levels of “bad” cholesterol, liver disease, and worsening erectile dysfunction.1
Boston University School of Medicine scientists looked at 460 men treated for enlarged prostate.
Half were prescribed Avodart (dutsteride). It uses hormones to reduce the size of the prostate. This in turn improves urinary function.2
The other half were prescribed Flomax (tamsulosin), a non-hormonal alpha blocker. It doesn’t shrink the prostate. Instead, it works by causing the smooth muscle tissue of the gland to relax. This makes urination easier.3
After a follow-up of 36-42 months, the researchers performed blood tests and assessed prostate size and function. Compared to Flomax, they found that Avodart was associated with an ongoing rise in blood sugar levels, and an increase in LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. It also increased markers for liver disease.
Men on Flomax experienced smaller but still significant side effects. Their cholesterol also went up. But their “good” HDL levels went up along with their LDL.
The study appears in the journal Hormones Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigations.
The researchers believe their results and those reported in previous human and animal studies confirm that Avodart has serious adverse side effects that were unanticipated when it was approved by the FDA in 2002.
Professor Abdulmaged M. Traish is one of the authors of the study. “We believe our findings suggest that Avodart has a negative impact on men’s overall health,” he said. “It increases blood sugar and also increases blood lipids. The increase in blood glucose . . . may predispose men to diabetes and the increase in lipids may predispose them to (liver disease).”
And men often find the drug makes the erectile dysfunction caused by their enlarged prostate even worse. “(Avodart) worsens sexual function and reduces quality of life,” Professor Traish said.
Avodart reduces production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It’s a hormone linked to enlargement of the prostate gland. Treatment with Avodart can cause a man’s prostate to shrink by roughly 20%. The other popular hormone-based prostate drug in this class is Proscar (finasteride). It works the same way and likely has the same serious side effects.4
Based on his findings, Professor Traish said he would prefer prescribing Flomax. But that drug, too, can have serious side effects. Besides high cholesterol LDL cholesterol, it’s linked to erectile dysfunction, swelling in the hands and feet, and swollen breasts.5
Natural Solutions for Enlarged Prostate
Instead of taking a dangerous drugs, there are natural solutions for an enlarged prostate that help many men. First, try these lifestyle changes:
- Reduce intake of alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
- Avoid taking decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics. All of these can cause the prostate to grow.
Certain foods and supplements can also help:7
Green Tea: It’s loaded with polyphenols, like EGCG. This polyphenol is unique to green tea. It prevents inflammation that leads to an enlarged prostate. It also kills prostate cancer cells.
To get the highest concentration of EGCG, choose matcha green tea. It has 137 times more EGCG than regular green tea.
Lycopene: Research shows this antioxidant-rich carotenoid from yellow and red plants lowers prostate-specific antigen (PSA) scores in men with an enlarged prostate. PSA is a marker for prostate cancer and enlarged prostate.
To get the most protection, you need 15 mg of lycopene a day. One medium tomato contains about 4 mg. So you may want to take a quality supplement.
Stinging nettle: In addition to taming allergies, stinging nettle is widely used to treat prostate disorders. The herb has been shown to alleviate decreased urinary flow and post urination dripping.
You can find tea preparations of stinging nettle, but it’s most effective when taken as a supplement made from the roots of the plant. Look for one with .8% beta sitosterol. It’s a plant sterol responsible for stinging nettle’s prostate-supportive effects.
Avocados: They’re rich in beta sitosterol. (As are pumpkin seeds and pecans.) Avocados are also great sources of healthy, inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fats. That makes them a double defense against a growing prostate—they fight the causes and the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
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