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Nutraceuticals and prostate cancer prevention: a current review

Abstract

Nutraceuticals are 'natural' substances isolated or purified from food substances and used in a medicinal fashion. Several naturally derived food substances have been studied in prostate cancer in an attempt to identify natural preventative therapies for this disease. Vitamin E, selenium, vitamin D, green tea, soy, and lycopene have all been examined in human studies. Other potential nutraceuticals that lack human data, most notably pomegranate, might also have a preventative role in this disease. Unfortunately, most of the literature involving nutraceuticals in prostate cancer is epidemiological and retrospective. The paucity of randomized control trial evidence for the majority of these substances creates difficulty in making clinical recommendations particularly when most of the compounds have no evidence of toxicity and occur naturally. Despite these shortcomings, this area of prostate cancer prevention is still under intense investigation. We believe many of these 'natural' compounds have therapeutic potential and anticipate future studies will consist of well-designed clinical trials assessing combinations of compounds concurrently.

Key Points

  • Several naturally derived food substances have been studied in prostate cancer in an attempt to identify natural preventative therapies for this disease

  • Vitamins E and D, selenium, green tea, soy, and lycopene remain the most promising nutraceuticals for prostate cancer prevention

  • Recent data from large trials have largely been disappointing regarding nutraceuticals and prostate cancer prevention

  • We should, however, be careful about ruling out many nutraceuticals, as the evidence against use is not strong and most randomized controlled trials are underpowered to detect positive effects

  • Additional, well-designed placebo-controlled trials with adequate power and relevant clinical end points are required and many are being undertaken

  • Most trials have taken place in patients with recurrence or castration-resistant disease; more studies are needed in these men, and in those on active surveillance or receiving adjuvant therapy

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Trottier, G., Boström, P., Lawrentschuk, N. et al. Nutraceuticals and prostate cancer prevention: a current review. Nat Rev Urol 7, 21–30 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrurol.2009.234

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