Well I promise that that is going to be my only cheesy title his week. But I couldn’t resist after seeing some interesting new research published in this month’s issue of American Journal of Epidemiology.
As they age, many men develop an enlargement of the prostate gland, technically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, can make urination difficult or trigger a need to urinate frequently. This can be particularly troublesome if men keep having to get up at night to pass urine.
The researchers decided to look at the potential impact of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), because they had previously been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The study was well designed and involved 2,447 men in a single county in Minnesota. Taking NSAIDs was found to significantly prevent or delay enlargement of the prostate.
We must be cautious: we don’t want to encourage men to take NSAIDs inappropriately: they can have many side effects, and more work is needed to confirm the findings, and then to find the optimum dose to cut risk.
This is useful information. I’m not keen on taking any medicine on a long-term basis; particularly not a class of medicines that can cause gastrointestinal upset and increase the risk of bleeding. But this research follows hard on the heels of one large negative study on the widely used herbal remedy Saw Palmetto.
This is a brief extract from something that I wrote for another program:
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa Repens) is also known as Sabal, American dwarf palm tree and Cabbage palm. As its name implies, it is a member of the palm family.
Uses and Indications:
It is primarily used in the management of prostate enlargement. Some early studies suggested that Saw Palmetto reduces the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy through antagonism of both androgens and estrogens.
It only increases urine flow and does not decrease the size of the prostate. In a review of 18 randomized trials involving approximately 3,000 men, Saw Palmetto did provide overall benefit on prostatic symptoms. However, it is not certain how long any effect might last. In a one year prospective study, comparing Saw Palmetto with finasteride, (Proscar), the herb had no appreciable benefit, whilst the finasteride did. There was however no placebo arm in the study, and no measures of the patients’ subjective well-being.
If the herb is going to help it usually takes 4-6 weeks or longer for effects to be observed.
More recently, some women have been exposed to Saw Palmetto, since it sometimes an ingredient of those herbal concoctions that are supposed to increase bust size.
Cautions and Side Effects:
Saw Palmetto is a cause of gynecomastia in men. It may also have gastrointestinal side effects of nausea and diarrhea.
Saw Palmetto may cause insomnia, fatigue and headaches.
Due to its anti-androgenic and anti-estrogenic effects Saw Palmetto is contraindicated in:
Pregnancy (or in women at risk of becoming pregnant)
Hormonal dependent illnesses (e.g., prostate or breast cancers)
Oral contraceptives and any hormone replacement therapy such as conjugated estrogens.
Saw Palmetto contains tannins, and these may interfere with the absorption of iron.
If given with warfarin, there is an increased chance of bleeding.