Prostate Health


We will briefly consider some nutritional aspects of three all too common problems with the male prostate: infection, enlargement and malignancy. 

PROSTATITIS (Infection of the prostate)

Bacterial infection of the prostate may be acute or chronic. A nonbacterial prostatitis is actually more common.  (Merck Manual, 14th ed., pp 1566-1567) Saturation doses of vitamin C are at least as effective as antibiotics in any of these conditions. We know this through the work of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., Robert Cathcart, M.D. and other physicians who have used very large doses of vitamin C to cure infections for decades.  Vitamin C is admittedly nonspecific, but no more so than the pharmaceutical antibiotics that are given for infection no matter where in the body it may be. Vitamin C has the advantages of being cheaper and considerably safer than drugs. Saturation of vitamin C is indicated by loose stool, so one takes just less than the amount that would produce bowel distress.  It tends to be a lot, measured in grams and not milligrams. The need for vitamin C will diminish as the infection subsides. A maintenance dose effectively helps to prevent a recurrence. 

If there were a mineral that could be as important for the prostate as vitamin C is, it would be zinc. Infection or other stress results in lower blood serum zinc levels in general and lower prostate levels in particular. In prostatitis, zinc levels are only ONE-TENTH of those in a normal prostate. (Fair and Heston,1977; Pfeiffer, 1978) One time-tested prostate remedy is eating pumpkin seeds. It is no surprise that pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, as are shellfish (especially oysters, which would account for still more folklore) and nutritional yeast. A daily zinc supplement totaling 50 to 100 milligrams of elemental zinc is frequently recommended in the natural healing literature, and that amount cannot be faulted by medical literature. Common, fairly inexpensive, and well-absorbed forms include zinc gluconate, zinc citrate, and zinc picolinate. These should be taken with food. I personally do not recommend zinc oxide or zinc sulfate. And a reminder: I have no financial connection whatsoever to the supplement industry.  

Since men lose zinc in every seminal emission, their need for the mineral is higher than a woman's. Research by Dr. Irving M. Bush and the Center for the Study of Prostatic Diseases in Chicago employed 50 to 100 mg of zinc per day for as long as 4 months to as little as only two weeks. There was prompt improvement in 70 per cent of the cases. 

Not bad for just a single mineral. (Taylor DS. Nutrients can remedy prostate problems. Today's Living, February 1990, p 12-13.) 


The Merck Manual has historically indicated surgery as "definitive" therapy for this common condition.  Medication is now commonly prescribed first, one of the more popular being finasteride ("Proscar") manufactured, conveniently enough, by the Merck company.  Proscar is actually a somewhat dangerous substitute for an herbal remedy, as at least half of all pharmaceuticals are. The classic herb pirated in this case is the saw palmetto berry

Saw palmetto is a shrub that grows down south in Georgia and Florida along the ocean.  The leaves are palm-like, and the stems are saw-toothed, hence the name. According to The Herb Book by Dr. John Lust, a teaspoon of the dark-colored berries is steeped in one cup of water, and that is taken once or twice daily. There are no side effects or contraindications listed. This is in sharp contrast with the drug Proscar. Proscar has many serious side effects, and they are stated on the package insert, published in advertisements for the drug, and listed in the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR). The PDR is available in any bookstore or library, and you will find a copy at all drug counters.  European studies have confirmed that saw palmetto berries are a statistically significant therapy for enlarged prostate. They are clearly a safer treatment, and cheaper as well. 

Zinc is as helpful with enlarged prostates as it is with inflamed ones, since zinc deficiency results in prostate enlargement. Very few men obtain even the low US RDA of 15 milligrams of zinc a day, and this would explain a lot. Supplemental doses, commonly between 50 and 100 mg daily, may help shrink a swollen prostate. Toxicity of zinc is very low. Side effects of diarrhea and anemia begin at about 500 mg daily, vastly more than anyone would need to take. (Even at that level, supplemental iron and copper alleviate the side effects.)  How effective is zinc therapy?  Dr. Irving Bush (mentioned previously) of the Chicago Medical School and researchers from Cook County Hospital studied over 5,000 patients and have confirmed that zinc prevents prostate enlargement. 

Vitamin C would almost certainly be of benefit to the enlarged prostate. At the very least, infection would be avoided. Additionally, men with enlarged prostates report that vitamin C's modest diuretic effect makes urination easier. 

Lycopene, the natural antioxidant pigment that makes tomatoes red, has been demonstrated to slow or even halt the growth of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In a recent study, men got results when given a mere 15 mg of lycopene per day. (Schwarz S, Obermüller-Jevic UC, Hellmis E, Koch W, Jacobi G, Biesalski HK. Lycopene inhibits disease progression in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia. J Nutr. 2008 Jan;138(1):49-53.)


This is the one we're really worried about. There is much that can be done to prevent this number two cancer killer of American men. Adequate, even abundant, nutrients strengthen the body's immune system and prevent cancer. As mentioned above, optimum prostate health requires vitamin C and zinc in particular.

Some widely-publicized reports (such as J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 May 16;99[10]: p 754-64) would have you believe that supplementation actually encourages or even causes prostate cancer. This is unlikely for the following reasons:

1.      The study authors themselves actually said that “no association was observed between multivitamin use and risk of localized prostate cancer.”

2.      The zinc doses examined were low, usually only modest variants of RDA-multivitamin levels of 11 mg/day. 

3.      The data was collected “as part of a self-administered, mailed food-frequency questionnaire.” This is far from the most reliable form of research.

4.      While the study “found an increased risk of advanced and fatal prostate cancers” among extra-multivitamin users, the very same tablets also contain vitamin C, vitamin D, beta-carotene, and selenium. All of these nutrients have repeatedly been shown to fight cancer. This is another reason to suspect statistical invalidity in this study.

5.      Men often do not begin taking vitamin and zinc supplements until after they are diagnosed as having prostate cancer. More cancer patients would be taking more zinc, which would certainly skew the results. Furthermore, this is not causation, this is correlation. 


There is no doubt whatsoever that diet has a major role in allowing - or stopping - prostate cancer.  For example, a Harvard University School of Public Health study indicated that you are 250% more likely to suffer advanced prostate cancer if you eat red meat every day than if you eat red meat only once a week. The message is clear and generally ignored: move your diet in the direction of vegetarianism, and start today (USA Weekend, December 3-5, 1993, p 14). 

Vitamin D fights prostate cancer. Be sure to read this article by John J. Cannell, M.D.:  To learn more, I recommend a free and quick Medline search ( ) for papers by “Holick MF.” My interview with Dr. Holick is posted at This may also be useful to you:

Vitamin E fights prostate cancer. Research published in the International Journal of Cancer has shown that gamma-tocotrienol, a cofactor found in high quality vitamin E preparations that specifically state this ingredient on the label, actually kills prostate cancer stem cells. (1) As you would expect, these are the very cells from which prostate cancer develops. They are or quickly become chemotherapy-resistant. And yet natural vitamin E complex contains the very thing to kill them. Mice given gamma-tocotrienol orally had an astonishing 75% decrease in tumor formation. Gamma-tocotrienol also is effective against existing prostate tumors. (2,3)

1. Sze Ue Luk1, Wei Ney Yap, Yung-Tuen Chiu et al. Gamma-tocotrienol as an effective agent in targeting prostate cancer stem cell-like population. International Journal of Cancer, 2011. Vol 128, No 9, p 2182-2191.

2. Nesaretnam K, Teoh HK, Selvaduray KR, Bruno RS, Ho E. Modulation of cell growth and apoptosis response in human prostate cancer cells supplemented with tocotrienols. Eur. J. Lipid Sci. Technol. 2008, 110, 23-31.

3. Conte C, Floridi A, Aisa C et al. Gamma-tocotrienol metabolism and antiproliferative effect in prostate cancer cells. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2004. 1031: 391-4.

And by the way, taking 300 IU of NATURAL vitamin E per day reduces lung cancer by 61%. It is therefore likely to be beneficial for other forms of cancer. (Mahabir S, Schendel K, Dong YQ et al. Dietary alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols in lung cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2008 Sep 1;123(5):1173-80.) For further information: Vitamin E prevents lung cancer. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Oct 29, 2008.

Eating a lot of lycopene-rich, fresh tomatoes has been shown to radically reduce your prostate cancer risk. (A Medline search at will bring up dozens of supporting studies.)

Soy products appear to have a special benefit against prostate cancer. Japanese men have especially low death rates from prostate cancer, even thought they get the disease as often as American men do. The Japanese eat a lot of tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk and other soy foods.  Even animals fed a lot of soybeans have far less prostate cancer than others.  There are at least two specific substances in soybeans that seem to help fight cancer: genistein and isoflavinoids. These natural chemicals are especially effective against the hormone-dependent cancers, which includes prostate cancer.  (Soybean products may lower prostate cancer, Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal, January 12, 1994) 

Prostate cancer is very slow growing. Because of this, radical measures such as radiation or surgery are often reasonably postponed. This "watchful waiting," to see if surgery is truly needed, is advocated by more and more doctors. Obviously, regular medical examination and follow-up is important. Although there is question as to whether it actually saves lives, the Prostatic Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test is one way to monitor the prostate's condition. The actual benefits of surgery and radiation therapy are statistically quite small. After ten years, only slightly more of the treated patients are still alive than those that did nothing at all (Prostate cancer cure questioned, Associated Press, January 27, 1994). 

In the mean time, an especially good diet and appropriately generous use of supplements may positively influence the situation. It certainly cannot hurt to have lots of raw salad foods, sprouts, and fresh vegetable juices every day. Natural health research has continually emphasized these measures to help fight cancer. A particularly good example is the work of Max Gerson, M.D.  Dr. Gerson used a mostly raw food and fresh vegetable juice diet for cancer patients with remarkably good results. He also used substantial quantities of vitamin supplements. His entire program is set forth in a tremendously valuable book entitled The Gerson Therapy, by Charlotte Gerson and Morton Walker (2001) NY: Kensington Publishing Corp. ISBN 1-57566-628-6 (paperback, 371 pages, plus appendixes and index .)

To learn more about how to do the Gerson Therapy, you can start here: is a transcript of a speech by Dr. Gerson himself. is a bibliography of published clinical studies showing the demonstrated benefits of the Gerson treatment. is a bibliography of all of Dr. Gerson’s scientific writings.

Copyright  C  2008 and prior years Andrew W. Saul. Revised and copyright 2023.  

Balch and Balch. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Avery Publishing, Garden City Park, NY, 1990, pp 271-273. 

Fair WR and Heston W.  Prostate inflammation linked to zinc shortage. Prevention 113: June, 1977. 

Gerson M.  A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases. Gerson Institute, P.O. Box 430, Bonita, CA 91908

Lust J.  The Herb Book. Bantam Books, 1979 

Pfeiffer CC.  Zinc and Other Micro-nutrients. Keats, 1978  p 46-47. 

Taylor DS. Nutrients can remedy prostate problems. Today's Living, February 1990, p 12-13) 

For more information, you might also want to read DOCTOR YOURSELF ( and FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! (


Andrew W. Saul


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