Even the National Institutes of Health is vague about what the appropriate treatment for prostate cancer is. In essence, they say, “It depends.”
Yet men diagnosed with prostate cancer are routinely subjected to a specific treatment anyway, especially if the cancer has spread.
Today I’m going to give you five compelling reasons you might want to reject this treatment. What’s more, doctors routinely conceal at least one of these problems from their patients. And it causes great emotional and relational trauma.
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Hormone therapy, also called Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), is sometimes performed surgically. But more commonly it’s a drug-induced form of castration.
ADT is a mainstay in conventional prostate treatment. It shuts down the source of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), hormones that are believed to fire up cancer cell production. Doctors expect you to stay on Androgen Deprivation Therapy long-term, maybe for life.
There are many side effects of this chemical castration, and I’m not even talking about the obvious one – loss of sex drive. At least that doesn’t endanger your life. Some of the other side effects do. And even those that aren’t life-threatening can be devastating.
#1: Doctors Fail to Warn Men
About Penis Shrinkage
A shrinking penis would definitely be a side effect any doctor would mention before beginning treatment, yes? So the perception of a smaller penis must be a psychological outcome of the process? Well, no.
Shockingly, a study published in 2013 stated that the potential for a smaller penis from prostate cancer treatments is well known among physicians and surgeons… but they don’t tell their patients.
The study found that reports of smaller penises were more common among men treated with surgical removal of the prostate or male hormone-blocking drugs, combined with radiation. No cases were reported with radiation alone.i
The percentage of men reporting smaller penises was small (4% with surgery, 3% with ADT). But most of those affected were so upset that they regretted ever having done the cancer treatments.
However, there was no direct measurement of penis size, nor did doctors specifically ask their patients about this. The patients brought it up to their doctors without being prompted. This suggests the problem is more common than reported in the survey.ii No doubt many men would be embarrassed to ask their doctors about it, or wouldn’t even have the chance during the ten minutes a doctor typically spends with a patient.
Paul Nguyen, M.D., the radiation oncologist who headed the study, says, “It’s almost never discussed with patients, so it can be very upsetting to some men when it occurs.” That might just be the understatement of the century.
This is the first study to link penile shrinkage to problems in these men’s emotional relationships, dramatically reduced life satisfaction, and strong misgivings about the treatment they were given.
#2: It Might Kill You
ADT has another dark side – an increased risk of serious and often fatal heart problems.
The largest and most comprehensive study on this issue advised physicians to refer their patients to a cardiologist before starting treatment.
Cancer researchers in London looked at 30,642 Swedish men with either locally advanced or metastatic prostate cancer who received hormone therapy as the primary treatment between 1997 and 2006.
The men were followed for three years while scientists assessed their risk of various kinds of heart disease, compared to Swedish men in general.
Their findings? Prostate cancer patients on hormone therapy had a higher risk of developing all kinds of heart problems. And, they were more likely than normal to die from heart problems.
Nor did it take long for the problems to show up – just a few months after starting ADT.
Here’s the lowdown on increased risk of various types of heart problems:iii
The overall risk of dying from any heart disease soared by 21%.
Men taking gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist therapy, a stronger testosterone blocker, were at even greater risk of heart problems than ADT users.
To be fair, not every study on heart disease shows this same increased risk, although it’s not clear why.
But it seems that depriving a man of his male hormones is not exactly a smart choice.
#3: Works Well for Awhile…
Then Invites Cancer Comebacks
ADT usually works well… for a while. Men initially have lower PSA numbers and a better prognosis. But then the cancer returns with a vengeance. So what gives?
It’s been assumed that blocking the androgen receptor stops the cancer cells from growing, but newer research shows otherwise.
It turns out the androgen blockers may deactivate your epithelial cells, which normally form a natural protective barrier that prevents cancer cells from spreading.
The result? Cancer cells are more likely to metastasize and invade other tissues.
#4: Increased Risk of Death
by Kidney Failure…
You could also be putting yourself at risk of another potentially fatal health hazard – kidney failure.
This was the finding of a 2013 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Researchers discovered that ADT can lead to a rapid decline in kidney function, resulting in kidney failure and death.
This was based on a study of more than 10,250 Canadian men. Of those, 232 (a bit more than two percent) developed first-time acute kidney failure, or acute kidney injury (AKI), characterized by a rapid drop in kidney function.
Compared to men not treated with ADT, those receiving ADT were 2.5 times more likely to develop acute kidney failure.iv Patients with AKI have a mortality rate of about 50%.v
#5: Don’t Ever Trip or Fall…
Older men who undergo hormone deprivation treatment are significantly more likely to suffer from fractures. And they are then significantly more likely to die, according to a 2013 BJU International study conducted by the National Cancer Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Fractures can be a fatal risk to seniors, whose bones often fail to heal.
The study analyzed 75,994 men age 65+ who were on ADT. Based on pre-existing medical conditions, such as liver disease, diabetes, paralysis, and alcohol and cigarette use within one year prior to cancer diagnosis, the researchers rated the men for risk of bone loss and fractures.
What they found…
During the 12 years after starting ADT, more than 58 percent of these men broke bones, compared to 38 percent of what the researchers dubbed low risk men. (It’s not clear from the reports, but apparently these were the men not using ADT for their prostate cancer.)
Among the men who suffered a fracture, the death risk during the two years following the fracture was a staggering 40% higher than for the men in the fracture-free group.
And All the Rest…
Unfortunately, there are even more side effects.
One of the frequently cited ones is hot flashes and night sweats, similar to what many women experience during menopause. These hot flashes affect quality of life on a daily basis. And night sweats interrupt sleep, making you tired and irritable. Not to mention, more prone to cancer and other diseases.
There’s also some evidence that ADT can lead to diabetes.
Medically Useful Anyway… Or Not?
Despite all these dangerous side effects, you’d think it’d be worth the risks because surely it cures some men of advanced prostate cancer… right?
Actually, it’s not a cure at all.
The American Cancer Society used to say on its website, “Hormone therapy does not cure prostate cancer,” though the comment has apparently been removed.
A study in the journal Reviews in Urology concluded that, ultimately, men suffering from advanced prostate cancer will develop a disease that’s hard or impossible to manage with hormonal manipulation. Conventional medicine calls it androgen-independent prostate cancer.
As I’ve discussed frequently here at Cancer Defeated, and expounded in my Special Report Don’t Touch My Prostate, there are a great many natural, non-toxic ways men can help protect themselves from prostate cancer – AND from the devastating conventional treatments your doctor will surely recommend. Take that road and you won’t need to worry about the frightening side effects of hormone therapy.
Our last issue talked about a very pleasant way to control cancer. It’s not some kind of miracle cure, but it helps, and it’s so enjoyable you’ll want to add it to your plan for beating this dreaded disease. If you missed this great idea, you can click here and read it now.