— by Cate Stevenson, BA
Prostate cancer is one of those rare conditions where the best course of action is often what doctors call “watchful waiting.” Because the disease tends to spread slowly, options like surgery are usually avoided. Many find themselves reaching instead for drugs. Drugs are normally less risky and less potentially harmful than opting to go under the knife. Or so we have been led to believe. But, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some commonly used prostate drugs increase the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and sudden death in the men who take them.
These findings are based on initial results from an analysis of several studies. The FDA wants doctors to be aware of the potential risks of a series of prostate drugs called “GnRH agonists.” They recommend that both doctor and patient carefully consider the benefits and risks of these drugs when deciding on treatment for prostate cancer.
If you are currently taking GnRH agonists, make sure you get checked regularly for signs of the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
It’s also important to remember that prostate cancer patients taking drugs need to manage cardiovascular risk factors. This means smoking, as well as avoiding increases in blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight.
They caution that those taking GnRH agonists should not stop the therapy unless instructed by their health-care provider.
Common drugs in the GnRH agonist group include “Eligard,” “Lupron,” “Synarel,” “Trelstar,” “Vantas,” “Viadur,” “Zoladex” and several generic products. These drugs usually work by suppressing the production of testosterone, a hormone involved in the growth of prostate cancer.
What can you do to help and avoid the necessity of taking prostate cancer drugs? One place to start is to make sure you are getting adequate zinc in your weekly diet. Zinc is one of those minerals found in each cell of your body. It is involved directly in nearly every single bodily process that you can think of. A severe deficiency in zinc causes major loss of immune function — which is not surprising, as researchers have known for some time that this mineral is linked to the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. And it’s not surprising that zinc also plays a role in maintaining a healthy prostate gland, increased sperm production, and immune support.