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Prostate Cancer: Herbs to Avoid

written by: cra8051 • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 8/17/2010

Tumor angiogenesis is the proliferation of blood vessels in cancers causing the spread of a tumor. Apoptosis of cancer cells is the death of these cells. In seeking herbs that may benefit in the case of prostate cancer, we want to avoid ones that promote angiogenesis. Here are some of these herbs.

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    The primary reason for including the herbs below on the list of those to avoid is the high content of betasitosterol in them, which encourages cancer cells to grow. Note: There is some controversy about these herbs in relationship to prostate cancer. Not all herbalists agree about the potential for harm in using the herbs. The suggestions here are offered in the way of prostate cancer treatment info, not as absolute recommendations given the divided opinions of experts.

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    Cordyceps is not recommended with any hormone-sensitive disorder such as breast cancer or prostate cancer. Manufacturers of cordyceps caution that it should be used by adults only and not by anyone using anticoagulants, asthma inhalers or immunosuppressive drugs.

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    Ginseng (American, Brazilian and Siberian)

    Although some studies find anti-cancer effects on prostate cancer cell lines, others note a lowering of PSA levels, and still others found increased PSA expression. In the absence of actual prostate cancer, the possibility that taking an herbal supplement might mask a real rise in PSA readings could lead to missed diagnosis or, with existing prostate cancer, provide a wrong evaluation of how successful prostate cancer treatment has been. Alternatively, a false positive rise could lead to unnecessary treatment [1], [2]. Siberian ginseng contains compounds that stimulate testosterone, which is why it is suggested for diminished sex drives. However, when prostate problems exist, this seems a good reason to avoid the herb.

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    Men who have prostate cancer should avoid horsetail since it is a concentrated source of beta-sitoesterol and campesterol, which have been shown to encourage the growth of cancer cells in laboratory tests [3].

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    Like Siberian ginseng, sarsaparilla has been shown to stimulate the production of testosterone, making it inadvisable with prostate cancer.

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    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information you have just read.

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    [1]. Portfield, H., “UsToo PC-SPES surveys: review of studies and update of previous survey results," Molecular Urology, 2000 Fall;4(3):289-91;discussion 293.

    [2] Hsieh, TC, and Wu, JM., "Mechanism of action of herbal supplement PC-SPES: elucidation of effects of individual herbs of PC-SPES on proliferation and prostate specific gene expression in androgen-dependent LNCaP cells," International Journal of Oncology, 2002 Mar;20(3):583-8.

    [3]. Balch, Phyllis A., CNC. Prescription for Herbal Healing (New York: Avery, 2002), p. 84.