By Craig Weatherby
As its name implies, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein generated by the prostate gland.
The PSA test has been widely used to screen men for prostate cancer and monitor men who’ve been diagnosed with or treated for the disease.
And the higher a man’s PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer … but some patients don’t have high levels
But benign conditions like prostatitis, urinary tract infection, or BPH (enlarged prostate) can raise PSA levels. misleadingly.
Conversely, drugs used to treat BPH (e.g., finasteride and dutasteride) can lower a man’s PSA level, giving a potentially false appearance of safety.
Official U.S. advisory groups now advise against using PSA screening for prostate cancer because of these false signals and because the diagnostic benefits, if any, are small … while the harms of unnecessary treatment can be substantial.
No experts recommend its use without a detailed discussion with a physician concerning the pros and cons of using the test.
Iranian scientists now report that omega-3 and CoQ10 supplements each cut men’s PSA levels by about one-third.
Omega-3s and prostate health
Most of the studies conducted to date link higher fish or omega-3 intakes to reduced prostate risks … with some differences due to genetic variations (Szymanski KM et al. 2010).
However, as many expert commentators noted, the results were very weak statistically and contradicted by a large body of positive clinical evidence … hence, they lack credibility.
Iranian trial finds omega-3s and CoQ10 cut PSA levels
A team from Tehran’s Clinical Center for Urological Disease recruited 504 men to participate in a 12-week trial (Safarinejad MR et al. 2012).
The men were randomly assigned to one of four daily supplement regimens:
We should note that at more than 7 grams per day, this was an unusually high daily dose of omega-3s.
(Heart patients with high triglyceride levels are advised to take 4 grams daily, while most authorities recommend 1 gram daily for heart patients and 250-500mg per day for healthy people.)
GLA is a long-chain omega-6 fatty acid (extracted from borage or primrose oil), which often exerts anti-inflammatory effects.
After 12 weeks, PSA levels dropped an average of 30 percent in the omega-3 group and by an average of 33 percent in the CoQ10 group.
In contrast, PSA levels rose about 15 percent in the omega-6 GLA group.
The Tehran team noted that prostate cancer is promoted by inflammation, and that omega-3 fatty acids exert relevant anti-inflammatory effects.
And they wrote that CoQ10 – an antioxidant natural to the human body – exerts several specific anti-cancer effects and probably modulates inflammation.
However, they urged caution about their findings:
“Although statistically PSA was altered with the duration of treatment, longer studies are necessary to reach an appropriate conclusion.” (Safarinejad MR et al. 2012)
Given the evidence overall to date, it seems that omega-3s are prostate health allies, while the excess omega-fat intake typical of Americans is risky.
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