PSA (prostate-specific antigen) tests are done regularly. However, according to a report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, they are useless and men should not have them. Wow! That’s a pretty dramatic statement. Why would they say that? Well, it seems that the report, which is based on five clinical trials, shows that PSA testing does not save lives and that having the test leads to more tests and treatments that cause impotence, incontinence and other side effects. Wait a minute… those are pretty bad side effects.
Doctor’s test for PSA because prostate tumors can cause an overproduction of PSA. The problem is that diet can also have a profound effect on PSA levels. Okay… now this gets interesting. There are numerous studies in the medical literature documenting that PSA levels can be reduced or elevated based on composition of the diet. In other words, prostate tumors are not the only cause of elevated PSA levels.
Dr. Dean Ornish is famous for his diet that can effectively reverse heart disease. In 2002, he presented data from a study of 84 men that involved improving prostate health with a plant-based diet, no alcohol, exercise (including at least 3 hours of aerobic workouts each week) and some other lifestyle changes.
In the study, patients who were 88% compliant decreased PSA readings by 9% within one year. Pretty impressive, I’d say. Those who weren’t quite so compliant (58% compliance) experienced increases averaging 6%. Men in the control group, many of whom received conventional treatments, scored significantly higher PSA’s than those in the experimental group. This is really what we might expect since we know that food is powerful medicine.
According to Dr. Ornish, “The results are very much like the cardiac studies when I first started doing them 25 years ago. There is a strong correlation between adherence and positive results.”
In another long term study done in Norrkoping, Sweden, 9,026 men were tracked for 20 years. Some men received PSA tests and others did not but the death rate was essentially the same in both groups. Screening for prostate cancer was useless in preventing death from prostate cancer. It seems apparent that it is better to eat well and prevent disease since early detection does not work.
If you need more information about PSA tests and prostate cancer I can suggest Dr. Mark Scholz’s book called Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers (check the Food Coach bookstore at www.askthefoodcoach.com).