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Herbal Treatment Shows Promise Against Prostate Cancer

It suppressed cell growth in lab experiments

FRIDAY, Dec. 20, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- An herbal formula sold under the brand name Zyflamend may offer new treatment and prevention options for prostate cancer patients, say Columbia University researchers.

The formula, a combination of 10 different herbs, suppressed the growth of prostate cancer cells and caused many cells to self-destruct in lab experiments, report the researchers. They presented their findings at a recent meeting of the Society of Urologic Oncology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

"This is a natural product that contains herbs and spices and in our lab studies seems to have an effect on the cancer we looked at," says one of the study's authors, Dr. Aaron Katz, director of the Center for Holistic Urology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. "The compound needs future research on the clinical side, but it holds the potential for prevention and reducing PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels."

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, except for skin cancer. More than 189,000 men are diagnosed with this form of cancer every year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Zyflamend is made with a combination of turmeric, ginger, holy basil, hu zhang, Chinese goldthread, barberry, oregano, rosemary, green tea and Scutellaria baicalensis.

The researchers added Zyflamend to prostate cancer cells in lab cultures. They also tested the effects of curcumin, a compound from the spice turmeric. Curcumin is believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect that could reduce the growth of prostate cancer.

They found Zyflamend reduced the growth of prostate cancer cells and induced cell death, and that curcumin alone did not produce these effects.

Dr. Howard Korman, a urologist and prostate cancer specialist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., says the results of this new study are exciting.

"Some of our most effective medicines come from plants," says Korman, "and these results are interesting and hopeful."

However, he cautions, "it's a big step to go from the lab to people."

Katz says the researchers are hopeful the therapy will be as effective in people as it is in the lab, and they plan on conducting clinical trials in the future.

If it proves as effective as they hope, Katz says the herbal formula could be used as preventative therapy because it has no significant side effects. He says it could also, perhaps, be used as a treatment for men with small tumors who don't want to undergo surgery or radiation if the trials go well.

What To Do

For more information on prostate cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute. The American Cancer Society offers tips that may help to prevent prostate cancer.

SOURCES: Aaron Katz, M.D., director, Center for Holistic Urology, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and associate professor of clinical urology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City; Howard Korman, M.D., urologist, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Mich.; Dec. 13, 2002, presentation, Society of Urologic Oncology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.
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