Herbal prostate supplement may cause bleeding

October 23, 2001 in Men's Health, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Herbal prostate supplement may cause bleeding

Doctors in Seattle report a case of severe bleeding in a man who was taking twice the recommended daily dose of an over-the-counter supplement to treat prostate cancer, an herbal combination called PC-SPES. The findings do not mean that patients should not use the supplement. However, patients should only use PC-SPES under the supervision of a medical professional.

Some research has shown that PC-SPES--a combination of eight different herbs including saw palmetto--lowers levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein linked to prostate cancer. The supplement, which contains estrogen-mimicking substances called phytoestrogens, has also been shown to shrink prostate tumors in animals. Despite the promise of PC-SPES, previous research has linked PC-SPES to an increased risk of blood clots in the lungs, legs and other parts of the body.

According to the authors of the report published in last weekís New England Journal of Medicine, patients should be told about the potential side effects of PC-SPES and should not use the supplement without telling a doctor.

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