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I asked for and received a well informed friend's view to share
John is a very knowledgeable layman who has done extensive research on the subject of PC and I value his advice and knowledge.
Hi Chuck and ALL, - Saw palmetto (SP) is an extract derived from the deep purple berries of the saw palmetto fan palm (Serenoa repens), a plant indigenous to the coastal regions of the southern United States and southern California. There is an estimated one million acres of wild saw palmetto palms in Florida, where the bulk of commercial saw palmetto is grown.
Although more rarely prescribed by conventional Medicine in the United States, it has been used for years in some countries such as Germany, where it is often prescribed as the first line of action in cases of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH), which is the natural benign growth of the Prostate that occurs in most men beginning in their 40's. As with so many things having to do with Prostate cancer (PCa) the views of Saw Palmetto effectiveness varies and studies have been mixed in their published results.
Saw Palmetto is a Herb and therefore does not have to meet the rigid U.S. standards for medicinal drugs, nor does it require a prescription. Thanks to an ill advised piece of legislation (my opinion) by those famed (or infamous) Medical EXPERTS, the U.S. Congress, it also falls under NO regulatory examination and compliance as to its production and therefore it's ingredient content and strength can vary substantially, from those stated on its packaging, as has been shown by independent examination.
Earlier medical studies of varying quality around 1998 to 2002, showed some encouraging results that approached those shown by more conventional Prescription Drugs, such as Proscar, which is often prescribed in the U.S. for the treatment of symptoms of BPH. However, a couple of more recent studies in late ‘06 and ‘07 have shown NO better results from SP than from the placebo used in these double blind studies, thereby questioning it’s effectiveness. In fact in one significant double-blind study reported last year, SP was SLIGHTLY less effective than the Placebo used. Thus demonstrating once again that patients often report results that they WANT to believe, rather than that shown by objective measurements, when available. The mind is a powerful factor in results reported by patients in studies and is largely why glowing anecdotal reports are found so unreliable.
So it comes down to whose studies do you believe. From what I have read, it seems likely however, that IF Saw Palmetto has any real benefits in treating symptoms of BPH, it is more likely to occur in the earlier stages of BPH development. To my knowledge, there are no objective studies comparing Saw Palmetto with more aggressive treatments for advanced BPH, like the traditional Trans-Urethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP), often called in slang, the “roto-rooter job” or to any of the other more recently introduced approaches.
It probably is not dangerous to use in moderate amounts when used by itself, but there have been some isolated reports of possible interaction with other Herbs or Prescription/OTC medications, including excessive bleeding, so it is always wise to inform your Physician of your intended use.
NOTE: There are NO responsible claims or reports of any benefits attributed to its use in relation to PROSTATE CANCER. As you requested, these are my views and I hope this has been of some help and enlightenment. Be careful out there! – John (aka) az4peaks@newPCa.org