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This One's for the Dads

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads! This is a suitable time to both honor the dads we still have with us and to remember those we have lost. I am blessed to have had a couple of great dads in my life. My own father, who I lost to cancer when I was only fourteen, and my father-in-law who passed a couple of years ago — I considered him my dad for over 30 years.

I want to speak about a health condition that is on a lot of dads’ minds as we age — prostate cancer. I have had the opportunity to help several patients address prostate cancer using nutrition and functional medicine. Please note that I am not saying I “treat cancer.” I offer advice and support to people who are looking for natural and healthy ways to make their bodies more resilient in the face of cancer. This way they have a greater chance to thrive in spite of their diagnosis and they can feel and be healthier as they go through their cancer journey. The healthier you are the more likely you are to survive cancer — or anything.

Prostate cancer is a misunderstood condition, to say the least. Since it is cancer, most people automatically assume the worst upon hearing that word. Hearing you have a high PSA, or “prostate specific antigen” is a scary thing. However, a little education can go a long way to alleviating those fears. The unknown is often what we fear the most, so some helpful information will prepare you better for the journey ahead.

If you have ever had your PSA checked, you know that lower is better. What you probably haven’t heard is that slow or minor change in your numbers is a far bigger thing. What do you think is worse: having a PSA of 4.5 (over the “safe” reference range of 0-4.0) or having a PSA of 5.0 that hasn’t changed in 10 years? You are correct if you guessed the 5.0. If you have only had one measurement, you don’t know what it was six months ago or a year ago. For all you know it increased 200% in three months. That would be bad. Yet many men are pushed to try radical treatments based on a single lab finding. That is beyond bad. Please note that according to Harvard Medical School publications, 70% of men with elevated PSAs do NOT have prostate cancer. So, we need more information. That’s next.

Here’s another question for you: when is the last time your doctor mentioned your “free PSA?” It is actually a more meaningful number than PSA alone. Yet most men have never had theirs checked. If yours is above 25%, your risk of having actual prostate cancer is less than 5%!   Has anyone ever even mentioned “free PSA” to you? I check it every time! I always say, the more information, the better.

You want the most and best information you can get before deciding how to approach a positive PSA test. Biopsies can release cancer cells and actually cause it to spread. Proceed with caution if that is the next recommended step. One of the most common ways of dealing with prostate cancer is androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT. Various medications are used to lower your testosterone level to next to zero. There is some controversy on the efficacy and appropriateness of this approach. After all, if testosterone caused prostate cancer, then young men would have the highest levels of prostate cancer. In reality, they don’t. Prostate cancer is a disease of older men, not younger. Inflammation, diet, and an imbalance in estrogen receptors appear to be more impactful on prostate cancer progression.

There are a number of natural approaches that have been shown to mitigate prostate cancer risk. Controlling inflammation, increasing the levels of good fats in your diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, taking saw palmetto or stinging nettle. See your functional medicine specialist for a personalized approach to transforming your health.

An important sidebar to be aware of on this topic is that low testosterone levels have been identified as one of the mitigating factors in Alzheimer’s. Dr. Dale Bredesen is a neurologist from California who has actually cured people of Alzheimer’s. Yes, I said cured. He has identified ADT as a factor in the progression of Alzheimer’s. One patient of mine tried to get his father to come in as a patient after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and put on ADT after just one PSA test. The rest of his family was resistant to taking an alternative health care pathway. He started showing signs of Alzheimer’s not long after. I am left to wonder if he would not be here had he been guided down a more natural, conservative approach.

So for your sake and your family’s, do what it takes to stay healthy and alive for as long as you can. Make good choices with your health. Your family wants that, and you deserve that.


 

Dr. Burtis, MS, DC, CFMP, has been providing natural healthcare to the Fairmont area at Burtis Chiropractic Center for over 30 years. He uses a combination of chiropractic, nutrition, and functional medicine to help individuals restore and maintain health and healing through individualized care plans. The mission of Burtis Chiropractic Center is to provide transformational healthcare that takes an individual’s life to the next level. We strive to be a solution for families to experience transformational healthcare and help create vibrant and resilient lifestyles that can be passed to future generations.

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