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Naturopathic Support Alongside Hormone Therapies for Prostate Cancer


What is Hormone Therapy?

Hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), aims to lower the levels of male hormones, known as androgens, in the body or prevent them from stimulating the growth of prostate cancer cells. Various forms of hormone therapy can be employed in the treatment of prostate cancer.


Some examples of ADT include:

  • leuprolide (Lupron, Lupron depot, Eligard)

  • goserelin (Zoladex)

  • triptorelin (Trelstar)


Naturopathic Support

For patients on ADT, low testosterone can lead to several side effects. Most of these side effects are related to the low levels of testosterone in the body. In this case, treating the main underlying cause, low testosterone, would not be helpful because this would go against ADT. Instead, naturopathic therapies aim to reduce side effects by addressing other factors that can affect health.


Some of the side effects of ADT include:

  • Hot flashes

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Decreased erections

  • Urinary symptoms


Low testosterone in the body in general has also been shown in research to increase the risk of weight gain, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, inflammation, insulin insensitivity and high cholesterol. Low testosterone is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular mortality (2009).[1]


The goal of naturopathic therapy is to use natural options alongside dietary and lifestyle approaches that have been shown to help address these complications. For example, a 2019 study found that one natural therapy was associated with a three times higher chance of improvement in erectile dysfunction compared to placebo.[2] Another 2021 study found that this therapy also helped to reduce blood pressure compared to placebo.[3] This is important because research suggests that lower testosterone levels can increase blood pressure.[4]


Blood Testing

While low testosterone may increase risk of certain complications, it is also possible to test for other factors that may affect a person’s risk of those same complications. For example, low levels of magnesium in the body may also affect risk of high blood pressure.[5] Research has found that magnesium may help improve blood pressure in those with low levels.


Cautions

Before using any natural therapies it is important to speak with a naturopathic doctor because many cancer therapies can interact with natural medicines. At our clinic we use large databases to check for any reported interactions between therapies and we primarily use therapies that have been tested in the context of supportive cancer care.


Conclusion

Naturopathic support is offered to help reduce side effects of ADT, addressing factors that impact health. above and beyond testosterone levels. Naturopathic therapies aim to alleviate symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, and weight gain associated with ADT. Blood testing can be helpful to identify and manage other potential contributing factors to complications, like low magnesium levels affecting blood pressure. While natural therapies can be beneficial, caution is warranted given the complexity of cancer care. Consultation with a naturopathic doctor is recommended to ensure compatibility with cancer treatments and prevent potential interactions. Our clinic prioritizes evidence-based natural options, utilizing extensive databases to assess reported interactions and incorporating therapies validated in supportive cancer care contexts.


References

[1] Efstathiou JA, Bae K, Shipley WU, Hanks GE, Pilepich MV, Sandler HM, Smith MR. Cardiovascular mortality after androgen deprivation therapy for locally advanced prostate cancer: RTOG 85-31. J Clin Oncol. 2009 Jan 1;27(1):92-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.12.3752. Epub 2008 Dec 1. PMID: 19047297; PMCID: PMC2645096.

[2] Rhim HC, Kim MS, Park YJ, Choi WS, Park HK, Kim HG, Kim A, Paick SH. The Potential Role of Arginine Supplements on Erectile Dysfunction: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Sex Med. 2019 Feb;16(2):223-234. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.12.002. Erratum in: J Sex Med. 2020 Mar;17(3):560. PMID: 30770070.

[3] Abukhodair AW, Abukhudair W, Alqarni MS. The Effects of L-Arginine in Hypertensive Patients: A Literature Review. Cureus. 2021 Dec 17;13(12):e20485. doi: 10.7759/cureus.20485. PMID: 35070535; PMCID: PMC8761475.

[4] Interaction between testosterone and obesity on hypertension: A population-based cross-sectional study

Author links open overlay panelDandan Wei a, Jian Hou a, Xue Liu a, Liying Zhang a d, Lulu Wang a, Pengling Liu a, Keliang Fan a, Li Zhang a, Luting Nie b, Qingqing Xu a, Juan Wang a, Yu Song b, Mian Wang b, Xiaotian Liu a, Wenqian Huo b, Songcheng Yu c, Linlin Li a, Tao Jing e, Chongjian Wang a, Zhenxing Mao a Link

[5] Serum Magnesium, Blood Pressure, and Risk of Hypertension and Chronic Kidney Disease Progression in the CRIC Study

Simon Correa, Xavier E. Guerra-Torres, Sushrut S. Waikar and Finnian R. Mc Causland Link

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