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Prostate cancer alternative and complementary therapies

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Complementary therapy for prostate cancer is therapy that is used alongside standard medical care, while alternative therapy refers to medical approaches adopted in place of standard care.

Complementary therapies do not offer a cure for cancer but rather aid a patient by providing stress or pain relief and reducing feelings of nausea, for example. Alternative therapies also do not offer a cure for cancer and often involve the use of agents that have not undergone proper testing and been proven safe. Such alternative therapies can also interrupt standard medical regimens and jeopardise a patient’s chances of successful treatment or survival.  

Complementary therapies

Some examples of complementary therapies include:

Diet changes

A calorie-restricted diet that is low in saturated fat and high in fibre, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids is recommended. This can be achieved by eating a diet rich in oily fish, fresh fruits and vegetables. A Mediterranean style diet that is low in red meat and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and olive oil may be beneficial. Peppermint or ginger tea may relieve symptoms of nausea.

Meditation

This can help an individual relax and to cope with any distress their condition may be causing them.

Massage

Studies have shown that massage can reduce stress, anxiety, pain, depression and fatigue in cancer patients and is now recommended by many physicians as a non-invasive and useful aid to standard medical care.

Alternative therapies

Some examples of alternative therapies include:

Amygdalin

Amygdalin is found in almond and apricot stones and is sometimes sold as vitamin B17, despite not actually being a vitamin. Artificial claims support that the compound slows and stops cancer growth by selectively poisoning cancer cells.

Essiac

This is a drink that contains elm, rhubarb, burdock root and sheep sorrel and is sold as a nutritional supplement. Some sites say the drink can slow or cure cancer despite no supporting evidence to this effect. Essiac disrupts enzymes involved in the cytochrome p450 pathway and can minimize the effects of other treatments.

Metabolic therapies

Specialists in this field believe cancer is the result of a metabolic imbalance due to toxins building up in the body. These specialists claim to be able to treat cancer by purifying the body of such toxins. Treatments range from “detoxifying” vitamin and mineral rich diets through to coffee enemas that are said to flush toxins out of the body. However, no evidence supports these claims. Many of the diets recommended in metabolic therapy are vegetarian and vegan or may involve eating raw food or food low in salt and sugar.

Megavitamin therapy

This involves the ingestion of large amounts of vitamins as a way of preventing or treating cancer. However, vitamins consumed in large doses can be harmful. One of the most popular vitamins to take in high does is vitamin C, yet no scientific studies have yet proved this to be beneficial in cancer patients. Vitamin C can also interfere wiht radiotherapy and anti-cancer agents such as cisplatin and imatinib.

Reviewed by , BSc

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 22, 2014

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