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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In The News: Prostate Test Unnecessary & Red Meat Kills

PSA Testing Unnecessary?

The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test is routinely touted to men and every year more and more men ask their medical doctors or naturopathic doctors to write them a script for the test. Recent research on the PSA test reveals that "a high proportion of cancers actually found by PSA testing would never have become clinically apparent in that individual's lifetime" and that means many men are unduly subjected to the possible complications of the treatment, namely incontinence and impotence. The researchers state believe that the risks of large-scale PSA testing outweighs the benefits because many prostate cancers are slow growing and many men die of other causes instead of the cancer.

I believe that the PSA test is still useful and health care practitioners need to use their clinical judgement as to when to prescribe the test. For example, an 80 year old man in most cases probably wouldn't benefit too much from getting this test.


Red Meat Kills

Half a million people were tracked in a study looking at intakes of red and processed meats. The results are not startling to health care practitioners knowledgeable in nutrition. Naturopathic doctors have long advocated that North Americans cut their consumption of red meats. Now the Canadian Cancer Society is recommending limiting red meat to 500 grams or 18 ounces per week to reduce the risk of cancer.

The study found that men and women who eat four ounces per day - the equivalent of a small steak or "Quarter-Pounder" from McDonalds - had a higher risk of dying from heart disease & cancer than those who ate less than one once of red meat per day. Men who were heavy meat eaters had a 22% increased risk of dying from cancer and 27% increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Women had a 20% increased risk of dying from cancer and 50% increase for heart disease.

Red meat includes bacon, beef, cold cuts, ham, hamburger, hot dogs, liver, pepperoni, pork, sausage and steak.

My recommendation to my patients stays the same, meat should be treated as a "side" rather than the main course. In many restaurants and households, we are often served "a steak with a side of veggies". Let's reverse that folks!!! Make vegetables the star of your dish.

Other Recommendations:
  • Select lean meat and alternatives
  • Trim visible fat from meats
  • Remove the skin from poultry
  • Use cooking methods such as roasting, baking or poaching that require little or no added fat.
Yours in health,

Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"