The most common treatments for cancer involve radiation and chemotherapy treatment, and they are often among the first treatments used for many cancers. Whether you’ve received these treatments or not, you know they can leave you feeling weak and experiencing a range of side effects. Sometimes, cancer can even come back after it’s been treated.
That’s why alternative treatments are important. Being one of the most common cancers in men, it’s even more important than ever to have multiple different strategies and approaches to treatment. In fact, between 25% and 50% of prostate cancer patients seek out alternative or complementary medicine.
Below are a few alternatives/complements to standard treatment for prostate cancer. These alternative treatments can be grouped into one of two categories: supplements or mental/mindfulness practices.
Herbal and dietary supplements
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in a range of foods, especially fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruits. Antioxidants have generally been explored as a type of cancer treatment for some time due to their role in helping manage free radicals. A type of molecule that plays an important role in our immune systems, free radicals can have a beneficial impact on our body. If there are too many of them, though, they can start to damage cells. This kind of cell damage can lead to cancer.
Some research has shown that maintaining a diet high in this compound could reduce the risk of cancer and even help slow how quickly a prostate tumor grows. While research hasn’t been very consistent on the overall effects of lycopene on cancer, there are no known side effects of consuming lycopene.
As an antioxidant, some research has shown that green tea was beneficial for men with prostate cancer. However, much more research is needed to confirm green tea’s use as a prostate cancer treatment.
Another antioxidant, pomegranates have been explored as a potential cancer treatment and supportive option. For example, some research has shown that in people who drank pomegranate juice, it took longer for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels to rise. PSA levels can be indicative of whether someone has prostate cancer, so researchers speculate that the slower uptick in PSA levels meant that tumors were growing less quickly.
Antioxidants are the name of the game when it comes to dietary and herbal supplements for alternative cancer treatment. Curcumin is another type of antioxidant that has been studied for a range of conditions, including prostate cancer treatment. Research suggests that curcumin is safe, though it is unclear if it works effectively as a primary cancer treatment. There is more evidence that curcumin works well with treatments like chemotherapy by helping protect healthy cells.
Vitamin E is yet another antioxidant on the list of dietary and herbal supplements for prostate cancer treatment.
Vitamin E has been studied extensively in clinical trials. For example, the SELECT trial studied vitamin E and selenium, key nutrients that can help improve antioxidative effects in the body. It found that while vitamin E may have some antioxidative properties, some evidence appears to suggest people who received vitamin E and a placebo during the SELECT trial may be at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. More research is needed, however.
Resveratrol (grape skin extract)
Resveratrol has been studied as a potential prostate cancer treatment, with some success shown in animal models and studied down mimicking, though outside of, the human body. As a result, it’s been shown that resveratrol is likely tolerable and causes no side effects. Otherwise, more research is needed to determine its effectiveness as a cancer treatment option.
This treatment might be considered more of complementary cancer treatment, which means it’s used in addition to other standard treatments. Research has shown that activities like yoga or meditation can help alleviate some of the effects of standard cancer treatment, such as fatigue, anxiety, and more. Some research shows that yoga could also help improve the sexual health of men undergoing radiation treatment for prostate cancer.
Other types of complementary mindfulness therapies could include massage or acupuncture, which have all been shown to help patients receiving standard treatment with the anxiety, exhaustion, and stress of receiving these treatments.
With any type of cancer treatment, it’s important to make sure you fully understand the available treatment options and choose options that work for you. This should include talking to your doctor before starting any cancer treatment. They can help you decide which treatment options are right for you.