Are Nutritional Supplements Beneficial for Men with Prostate Cancer?


Large clinical trials conducted over the past decade or two have not suggested that any particular nutritional supplement is beneficial for prostate cancer outcomes. In fact, there are data suggesting that the use of some supplements-if you get above a certain level of intake-can actually increase the risk of poor prostate cancer outcomes.

A good example is the mineral selenium. Originally, it was thought that it might be beneficial for men with prostate cancer. But a large trial in the United States that studied selenium and vitamin E found that neither had any benefit for protecting men from developing prostate cancer. June Chan, D.Sc., Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues, conducted an observational study and reported that men with prostate cancer who took more than 140 micrograms of selenium in supplement form per day actually had an elevated risk of fatal prostate cancer.

The only nutritional supplement that may be worthwhile, says Dr. Chan, is a multivitamin. Data suggest that a multivitamin might reduce the overall risk for cancer, though the benefit is likely very modest.

The bottom line: If a man is taking any dietary supplement, he should review what he’s taking with his doctor.