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Prostate Cancer

Complementary approaches for prostate cancer

The men we interviewed had used various complementary approaches - changing their diet, taking vitamin and mineral supplements, massage and relaxation therapies, and using herbal or Chinese medicines. Dietary changes that men said they had made, since diagnosis, included eating less meat and dairy produce, drinking green tea, eating more fruit and vegetables, especially tomatoes and, in one case, consuming quantities of pumpkin seeds.

 

Stresses the importance of a balanced diet.

Stresses the importance of a balanced diet.

Age at interview: 66
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 66
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I had shifted my diet as well, I moved to more vegetarian stuff, more fruit, slashed the fat, the meat, the dairy, the salt, well overboard on this one and in the summer time I dropped about a stone in weight, people who met me in the street thought it was the end of the line and nearly passed out (laughs) so that was a bit extreme. And looking at the stuff that is available, there's a lot of very useful and pleasantly written information available that tells you about diet and balancing and also during this radiotherapy phase it is important to have a sensible balanced diet, you need to build yourself up.

Media and internet reports had encouraged men to try changing their diet and to take supplements including selenium, Saw Palmetto and anti-oxidant vitamins.

 

Describes the changes he made to his diet and decision to take selenium supplements.

Describes the changes he made to his diet and decision to take selenium supplements.

Age at interview: 70
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 66
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I have green tea, I have loads of tomatoes, tomatoes processed that is, like these bolognese sauces and things like that they're very high lycopene which is supposed to be an anti oxidant that cuts down on the risk of cancer and if you have prostate cancer it cuts down the oxidants, it's wonderful they reckon and I've cut out milk products, dairy products. I have skimmed milk instead of full cream milk and there's quite a few things that I've changed. I get loads of fresh vegetables, I have loads of fruit, oh and I have a selenium tablet every day because they think that selenium is lacking in our diet to such an extent whereas in the far east there is selenium in the ground where they grow the vegetables and whatnot, they get plenty of selenium and we don't because our produce is grown so much with chemicals instead of natural manure and things like that that we're not getting the selenium into our bodies. So they advise taking selenium tablets, supplements.

A large trial has demonstrated no benefit of taking vitamin E or selenium supplements in preventing prostate cancer (SELECT Trial 2008). Pomegranate juice appears to slow down prostate cancer progression after relapse following primary treatments (Phase II Study of Pomegranate Juice for Men with Rising Prostate-Specific Antigen following Surgery or Radiation for Prostate Cancer), but more research is needed to confirm these findings.

 

Describes his attempts to increase the amount of Soya in his diet.

Describes his attempts to increase the amount of Soya in his diet.

Age at interview: 51
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 50
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I've started to consume quite a lot of Soya which is very beneficial, I use Soya milk quite a lot. I eat a lot of like soy yoghurt for example, I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables particularly, I particularly like cabbage and Brussels sprouts, broccoli those sorts of things and I try to exercise, I like swimming and I swim twice a week at least. I try to do something with the weight, I try to limit drinking alcohol to reasonable levels, those sorts of things.

So all this was to try to improve your health in general

In general

It wasn't specific to prostate cancer?

No but I learnt that there are certain things that are very beneficial for the prostate particularly lycopenes, I think selenium is very, very beneficial, from what I've read, selenium is very beneficial and also tomato paste is very good.
 

Some men made great efforts to research the evidence behind recommendations before using any complementary approaches. Aromatherapy, reflexology and reiki were all described by the men as helping them relax. Others thought they had benefited from prayer, meditation and yoga. One man took a Chinese herbal remedy, but he didn't know its name.

 

Describes his change to a healthier diet and increase in vitamin supplements.

Describes his change to a healthier diet and increase in vitamin supplements.

Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 59
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I've changed my diet quite considerably. I've stopped having virtually all red meat, eating mostly white meat and fish, eating a lot of green vegetables, taking dietary supplements, such things as green tea, eating things with a lot of anti oxidants in them, taking supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin, well Vitamins A, C and E, zinc, selenium, garlic, all of which I've been taking for several years, which I think helps. Again, I've read up a lot of alternative therapy for prostate cancer and I haven't done anything without knowledge, I've done things in an informed way not just because somebody says 'Well yes this does you good or that does you good,' I haven't just taken their word for it, I've done my own research and because you can get it from the Internet quite easily I've been able to do quite a bit of research into all the things that I decide to take myself. 

 

Describes the complementary therapy, Saw Palmetto.

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Describes the complementary therapy, Saw Palmetto.

Age at interview: 51
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 50
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Have you tried any other alternative therapies as well or complementary therapies?

Complementary therapies no not really.

I haven't, there's Saw Palmetto. Okay the guidelines on that from the clinic I went to is that the main marker is the PSA so if you take Saw Palmetto or some of these other products you get a reduction in your PSA but if something is going to affect your PSA you should may be not take it because the move in the PSA is what you're relying on to let you know how you're doing.

How do you spell Saw Palmetto?

Saw Palmetto it's SAW, one word, PALMETTO and it's a product made from a particular kind of palm tree or a fruit of a palm tree or something like that.

 

Comments on his visit to an aromatherapist and a reflexologist.

Comments on his visit to an aromatherapist and a reflexologist.

Age at interview: 63
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 56
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Have you had any other treatment at all since leaving hospital or tried any alternative treatments?

No not really other than what I'm particularly interested in these days, because of some of the other symptoms that I've said of quality of life being different, you become tired far quickly and some of the pains that you carry and the scarring that you carry I have taken these days to visiting an aromatherapist and a reflexologist and I find that has a huge amount of comfort.

 

Describes his experiences of reflexology, Reiki and aromatherapy.

Describes his experiences of reflexology, Reiki and aromatherapy.

Age at interview: 70
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 69
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I've tried reflexology and Reiki, that's REIKI which is a laying of the hands on the body, slowly and steadily passing right down the body. You lay on a couch and they cover you with a light blanket, play soothing music and the lady who puts her hands upon you puts an oil on, which when the heat of the hands comes into effect is very pleasant, it's very soothing. I found it incredibly soothing, I mean I'd say I've dozed off 2 or 3 times but I've felt so relaxed. It lasts just over an hour and she actually touches your body twice and it's incredibly soothing and afterwards you feel very tired as if you've been walking for a long time. And she says to you 'Don't do anything energetic now, just sit quietly when you get home. If you want to go and have a snooze do so,' which I did (laughs) I went home and crashed for 10 minutes. But I found it very soothing. I've had it twice and for me it works. Not everybody gets the same out of it. 

Also reflexology of course is working with the feet, which is also very soothing, but I found the Reiki to me the most soothing. And I have a friend who actually practices it and it was really beneficial and I think it's important to relax. I think unbeknowing you develop a kind of anger about all this, inside, internally and that seems to help disperse that anger. But I can recommend it and I think that anybody who has had that diagnosis should try these therapies for themselves to see what works for them. But I've sent two of my friends along to have Reiki and they're also quite energetic get up and go people you know and they fizz about is the word I use and they've both come back and said 'This is marvelous, I really felt great after that.' So yes it's very good.

Do you have to pay for that?

Well I belong to the CLAN which is the Cancer Link Organisation, here locally, and it is entirely voluntary but you give a contribution afterwards. If you went privately you'd have to pay anything from '25 or '20-25 may be a little more, but quite honestly it's well worth it for the, it soothes one. And there is also where they use the oils.

Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy thank you that's the one I'm looking for, I haven't been to that and I don't know of anybody that has but all these therapies are available at the CLAN if you want to try them and as I say I can recommend Reiki for myself. Some of these people have amazing ability to sense where the body is hurting. Reiki apparently is supposed to reorganise the energy forces within the body. I haven't got into that yet but I can tell it works for me.

 

Describes his experience of treatment in Thailand.

Describes his experience of treatment in Thailand.

Age at interview: 57
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 56
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I also take a medicine that was prescribed for me. I happen to work a lot, travelling overseas, and I went to see a Thai Chinese doctor, and very interestingly she actually treats or at least has quite a number of prostate cancer men from the west in Thailand who go there after they've been may be diagnosed and treated, and decide that they'd rather live in the sun than you know in our cold climate. I mean may be these are people who actually are quite seriously affected. And they go to her and she provides them with herbal treatments and so on which she claims are quite effective and she's sort of made me up a herbal medicine which she turns into pills.

Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated July 2017.
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