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Health News Archive 5 - Prostate & Urinary Tract
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Why Milk Thistle Extract Inhibits Advanced Prostate Cancer Growth in Mice

A short communication published in the September 2003 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention described how researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver discovered the mechanisms of action for silibinin, an active component of milk thistle, in a mouse model of prostate cancer. Previous research conducted by coauthor Dr. RP Singh found that silibinin inhibited advanced human prostate cancer growth in nude mice. The current study sought to determine why.

The researchers fed dietary concentrations of 0.05 percent and 0.1 percent silibinin, or a control diet to athymic mice who had received advanced human prostate tumor grafts. After sixty days the tumors were assessed for cell proliferation, apoptosis (programmed cell self-destruction) and angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels by the tumors which facilitates their growth). Researchers found that while cell proliferation and angiogenesis were reduced, apoptosis increased. They also found an increase in insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 3 expression. Increased plasma levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) have been found to be associated with an elevation in prostate cancer risk, and upregulation of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 might have an inhibitory effect on IGF-1’s cancer-promoting action. The binding protein has also been found to have its own apoptotic and antiproliferative effects. No signs of toxicity from silibinin were observed in the mice.

As the effect of silibinin on angiogenesis, apoptosis and tumor cell proliferation was greater in the group receiving the higher dose, the authors of the study believe that there is a strong possibility that higher doses of the compound could even provide complete prostate cancer growth inhibition. A trial in humans with prostate cancer is underway.

SOURCE: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, September 2003.

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Green Tea Compound Blocks Bladder Tumors in Rats

Injection of a chemical found in green tea blocks the growth of bladder tumors in rats, according to a report published in the September 2003 issue of The Journal of Urology.

The chemical, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), has never been studied as an anti-cancer agent injected directly into the bladder, lead author Dr. J. Karl Kemberling and colleagues, from the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, said.

Although EGCG has been shown to have anticancer properties, prior studies examining green tea use have yielded conflicting results. In one study, green tea consumption was actually tied to an increased risk of bladder cancer. However, in another study, drinking more than five cups per day seemed to protect against the malignancy.

In the new study, Kemberling's team examined the anti-cancer effects of EGCG in the test tube and in rats with bladder tumors. An EGCG dose was identified that could kill 100% of cancer cells after two hours of incubation. The authors then tested EGCG on rats implanted with tumor cells. Thirty minutes after tumor cell injection, some of the animals were treated with EGCG, whereas others were not. Eighteen of 28 animals (64 percent) treated with EGCG were tumor free three weeks later, the researchers reported. In contrast, all 12 untreated animals showed tumor growth.

The results suggest that EGCG could be a useful treatment for bladder cancer. Moreover, "it is readily available and easily processed from green tea leaves," the authors state.

SOURCE: Journal of Urology, September 2003.

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Selenium Reduces Prostate, Other Cancers

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that selenium supplements decrease cellular changes that lead to prostate cancer. The researchers randomly fed 49 elderly male dogs either a normal diet or a diet supplemented with selenium. After seven months the dogs supplemented with selenium had less DNA damage to their prostate than dogs fed a normal diet. Also the prostate of dogs supplemented with selenium was shown to have twice as many cells undergo apoptosis, a mechanism that can remove damaged cells.

The authors conclude that "selenium may benefit the aging prostate by decreasing the accumulation of DNA damage in epithelial cells even before these cells show cytotoxic changes suggestive of malignancy."

A second study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could help explain how selenium reduces the risk of certain cancers. Researchers found that selenomethionine -- a form of selenium -- switches on a gene (p53) that prevents tumors from developing. The study, carried out on human lung cancer cells, led researchers to note that for cancer prevention, selenium intake would have to be around 200 mcg daily.

These studies confirm the anti-cancer benefits of selenium that a recent study on former smokers found is associated with a lower risk of bladder cancer.

1. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Feb 5,-95(3):23 7-41.

2. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 99, Issue 22, 14548-14553.

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Saw Palmetto Reduces Prostate Problems

Men with lower urinary tract problems, such as an enlarged prostate, may benefit from the herbal remedy saw palmetto (Serona repens), according to a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center and the Dekalb Clinic, both in Illinois.

In this double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study, researchers initially enrolled 94 men, 45 years and older, who were diagnosed with urinary retention. After a one-month placebo run-in period, researchers randomly selected 85 men to take placebo or 160 mg twice/day saw palmetto (Soloray, supplied by Nutraceutical Corp. of Salt Lake City, Utah) standardized between 85 per cent and 95 per cent fatty acids and sterols for six months.  Using the International Prostate Symptom Score, the mean score decreased 4.4 points in the saw palmetto group compared with 2.2 points in the placebo group.

Researchers concluded that more studies are needed to determine the mechanism that makes saw palmetto effective in treating urinary tract conditions in men.  Although saw palmetto is one of the 10 best-selling herbal remedies, many doctors remain skeptical, partly because it has not been tested against standard medications for enlarged prostate. However, researchers are hopeful that this study will enable doctors to prescribe it to patients for symptomatic benefits.  

View more info on Saw Palmetto

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Lutein and Lycopene Can Help Prevent Prostate Cancer According to UCLA Study

New findings from UCLA indicate that Lutein -- a carotenoid recently discovered in California avocados and found in green vegetables -- can help protect against prostate cancer.  This study was presented at the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) meeting in July 2001 in Washington D.C. 

In recent studies, Lycopene -- a carotenoid found in tomatoes -- was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, but lutein had not been linked to prostate cancer prevention until now.

According to Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and author of "What Color Is Your Diet," the study initially focused on a rural area of China, which had a low incidence of prostate cancer despite a diet virtually free of lycopene (due to lack of tomato intake) but rich in lutein (due to a high consumption of green vegetables). The study was then expanded to include Chinese American men and Caucasian men.

UCLA lab tests showed that lutein reduced prostate cancer cell growth by 25 percent while lycopene reduced cell growth by 20 percent. When lutein and lycopene were combined, prostate cancer cell growth was reduced by 32 percent. Thus indicating that both nutrients together help protect against prostate cancer better than either nutrient alone.

"Lutein and lycopene in combination appear to have additive or synergistic effects against prostate cancer," said Heber. "Our results suggest that further studies should be done to investigate the nutrient-nutrient interactions of lutein and lycopene at a subcellular and molecular level."

Traditionally, lutein has been found in green vegetables such as parsley, celery and spinach but was recently discovered in the avocado fruit. In fact, research shows that avocados are the highest fruit source of lutein among the 20 most frequently consumed fruits.

In addition to the new prostate cancer findings, lutein is also known to protect against eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.  Studies from around the world sponsored by the AICR have shown that individuals eating 400 to 600 grams per day (more than one pound) of fruits and vegetables reduce their risk of certain cancers by 50 percent.

California avocados fall in the green-yellow group and contain such vital nutrients as vitamin E, which helps "mop up" free radicals that can damage cells and lead to disease; glutathione, which functions as an antioxidant like vitamin E; beta-sitosterol, which helps lower blood cholesterol; and the recently discovered lutein, now linked to prostate cancer and eye disease prevention.

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NIH Awards Grant to Study the Dietary Supplement Nexrutine for Prevention of Prostate Cancer

The AMC Cancer Research Center (AMC) in Denver, Colorado, has been awarded a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study Nexrutine® as a potent prostate cancer preventive agent and to determine the molecular mechanism that underlies its efficacy. Nexrutine is a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient developed by Next Pharmaceuticals for use in dietary supplements. It is a patent-pending plant extract from the bark of Phellodendron trees commonly found in Asia.

Previous studies in the laboratory of Dr. Pratap Kumar at AMC have demonstrated that Nexrutine inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells through modulation of key components of the cell survival-signaling pathway. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer, other than skin cancer, among men in the United States, and it is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer-related death among men. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2003, about 220,900 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and 28,900 men will die of the disease. The prostate cancer death rate is higher for African-American men than for any other racial or ethnic group. Currently, there are no effective strategies available for its management indicating a need for safe and effective preventive agents. "Obtaining funding from NIH to evaluate the ability of this nutritive supplement using preclinical animal models is timely and we strongly believe that this work will make an important contribution towards the management of prostate cancer," says Dr. Kumar, Principal Investigator on this proposal.

"Dr. Pratap Kumar at AMC has some very exciting preliminary results on the effectiveness of Nexrutine in killing prostate cancer cells," stated Dr. Slaga, Scientific Director of AMC. "Because of these results, Dr. Kumar was awarded an NIH grant to further study this patent-pending plant extract. We are very hopeful that Nexrutine will be a safe and effective agent against prostate cancer."

"We are excited about Nexrutine as new approach to maintaining a healthy prostate, in addition to its established safety and efficacy as a natural pain management ingredient," says Bob Garrison, President and CEO of Next Pharmaceuticals. "We believe Nexrutine can play a positive role in cutting health care costs and improving the quality of life."

Next Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a research and development company that markets its patented or patent-pending ingredients such as Nexrutine to large food, beverage, and dietary supplement companies focused on health enhancement and disease prevention. Nexrutine is a selective COX-2 inhibitor that is the leading natural product for inflammation and pain management. Next has demonstrated that Nexrutine does not cause gastrointestinal (GI) irritation, a common side effect of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. In a two-week human study evaluating the efficacy of Nexrutine to ease soreness in joints and muscles, 72% of the participants said Nexrutine was effective and 86% of the participants said that Nexrutine was gentle on the stomach. Nexrutine is currently under investigation in a placebo-controlled clinical trial to further establish its efficacy.

AMC Cancer Research Center is a not-for-profit research institute dedicated to the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases. In 1989 AMC became the first institution in the country to devote its scientific resources entirely to the prevention of cancer. Today it has expanded its causation and prevention research into the role of nutrition in the prevention of disease, health communications, behavioral research, and community studies.

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Fish May Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Men who routinely have fish on their plates may reduce their risk for prostate cancer, finds a study published in the June, 2001 issue of Lancet. 

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden analyzed data on 6,272 Swedish men whose lifestyle habits, including diet, smoking, and exercise frequency, were tracked from 1967 to 1997. During those three decades, 466 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 340 died. However, men who ate no fish showed a double to triple higher risk of prostate cancer than men who ate moderate or abundant amounts of fish.

What do fish carry that could be so important to humans? Study author Paul Terry and colleagues say it's omega 3 fatty acid, a type of fish oil already shown to have multiple biochemical effects in human health, including lowering cholesterol. Now, scientists ask whether it can block tumor development. Other studies have even indicated enough omega 3 in the diet can protect against depression.

Fish high in omega 3 include salmon, herring, and mackerel, all common foods in the typical Swedish diet, researchers point out. Other kinds of fish that do not have high levels of omega 3, researchers add, would unlikely have an effect on prostate cancer risk. Fish may not just help protect against some types of cancers, but may assist protecting our body from disease in general,

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Soy Extract Shows Promise in Prostate Cancer Fight

The soy extract genistein could become another tool in the fight against prostate cancer if tests on humans are as successful as new animal and laboratory studies, doctors say.

In the first study by researchers at the University of California at Davis, mice that had been bred to develop prostate cancer were fed large doses of genistein and their tumors were reduced.

In the lab study, the UC-Davis team added genistein to a culture of prostate cancer cells and it spurred the production of a gene called p21, which inhibits the growth of a protein that helps cancer grow. The prostate cancer cells then died.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer -- other than skin cancer -- among American men, and is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer-related deaths among males. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed this year, and about 30,000 patients will die of the disease.

Results of the studies were presented at the American Urological Association's annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif. in June 2001. 

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Cranberry Juice Helps Urinary Tract

Research published in June, 2001 in the British Medical Journal adds credibility to the belief that cranberry juice might prevent urinary tract infections, a misery that up to 60 percent of women endure at some point during their lives.

Women have been drinking cranberry juice for cystitis, or urinary tract infection, for years, but the remedy has never really been scientifically proven.

The study found that women who had suffered a bout of cystitis were half as likely to get a recurrence within six months if they drank a glass of cranberry juice a day.

The study involved 150 Finnish women who had a urinary tract infection but were not taking antibiotics. One third of the women were given one glass of cranberry-ligonberry juice per day for six months, another third were given a milky drink containing high concentrations of friendly bacteria for five days a week for a year and the rest were given neither.

The women were tested for cystitis whenever they reported suspicious symptoms, such as burning during urination, bloody urine or frequent and urgent need to urinate. Six months later, 16 percent of the women in the cranberry group had had another urinary tract infection. That compared with 39 percent in the friendly bacteria group and 36 percent among those who received no treatment.

Cystitis is caused when the bladder becomes inflamed because it has been invaded by bacteria that normally live in the bowel. The condition mostly affects women because of the proximity of the two areas. It is common among the elderly but also often occurs in sexually active young women, who can develop ``honeymoon cystitis.''

Doctors estimate there are at least 300 million cases of urinary tract infections worldwide each year. In the United States, there are about 11.5 million cases per year. The infections are normally treated with antibiotics, but experts worry that the bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs.

More than 90 percent of the time, the culprit is the bacterium E. coli.

Laboratory studies have suggested that cranberry juice might prevent E. coli from sticking to the wall of the bladder. 

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