Life Extension Magazine December 2004
By Heather S. Oliff, PhD
|LE Magazine December 2004|
Powerful Protection for Prostate Health
by Heather S. Oliff, PhD
A nutritional supplement has become available in the US that offers promising benefits to the millions of men
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that is part of the male reproductive system. Its major function is to contribute seminal fluid. Located inside the body cavity, the prostate sits in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the canal through which urine exits the body. Prostate gland enlargement can be caused by prostate cancer, but 80% of the time it is attributable to benign prostatic hyperplasia.1
As men age, the prostate gland increases in size, making benign prostatic hyperplasia one of the most common age-related conditions in men.2 The enlarged gland puts pressure on the urethra, acting like a partial clamp and thus causing numerous urinary symptoms. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a progressive disease, but it does not usually cause problems until late in life.2 Although it rarely causes symptoms in men younger than age 40, benign prostatic hyperplasia affects more than 50% of men in their sixties and 90% of men in their seventies and eighties.1
The cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia is still poorly understood, but it is likely that several factors play a role. Prostate cell growth can be stimulated by accumulation in the prostate of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an active form of testosterone that can be regulated with certain nutrients and drugs. It can also be stimulated by accumulation of estrogen in the prostate, other growth factors, or complex interactions between cell layers of the prostate. In addition, genetic factors likely play a role—having a family member with benign prostatic hyperplasia increases the likelihood that you will develop it as well.
Medical evaluation of urinary symptoms is the first step in managing them. Since untreated prostate cancer can lead to death, it is important for a medical professional to rule out prostate cancer. Non-malignant enlargement of the prostate gland, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, may require treatment to help alleviate the symptoms. Although not life threatening, untreated benign prostatic hyperplasia can cause chronic problems such as loss of sleep, urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones, and incontinence.1 Men with severe benign prostatic hyperplasia may require surgery. Mild to moderate benign prostatic hyperplasia can often be managed with herbal remedies or conventional pharmaceuticals.2 When treatment is started during the early stages, there is a reduced risk of developing complications.1 Preventive measures may also be valuable in protecting prostate health.
How Flower Pollen Helps The Prostate
Although its exact mode of action is unknown, studies have suggested a number of mechanisms by which Cernitin® may help manage benign prostatic hyperplasia. Research suggests that Cernitin® has anti-inflammatory and anti-DHT properties.3,4 Inhibiting inflammation decreases swelling and improves urine flow. Inhibiting DHT may prevent unhealthy prostate growth. Additional evidence indicates that Cernitin® works on the urinary tract by relaxing the smooth muscle tone of the urethra, thus improving urine flow, increasing bladder muscle contraction to push the urine out, and relaxing the sphincter muscles, which help hold the urine in the bladder.5-7 Together, these actions would improve the urine flow rate and reduce the amount of urine remaining in the bladder after urination, thereby decreasing urinary frequency.
Scientists discovered that the fat-soluble fraction of Cernitin® can inhibit undesirable prostaglandins, the hormone-like substances that are potent mediators of physiological processes such as inflammation.8 The inhibition of prostaglandins may decrease inflammation of the prostate, relax the smooth muscles of the urethra, and inhibit proliferation of prostate cells.8
In addition, scientists discovered that the fat-soluble fraction of Cernitin® could inhibit the enzyme 5alpha-reductase in prostate gland tissue.9 In benign prostatic hyperplasia, the enzyme 5alpha-reductase often converts testosterone to excess DHT, thus causing DHT to accumulate.10 DHT stimulates growth of the prostate and has a role in the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia.10 Because Cernitin® inhibits 5alpha-reductase, DHT formation was significantly inhibited.9 While Cernitin® presumably decreases DHT formation in benign prostatic hyperplasia, additional studies are needed to confirm this.
In addition to DHT, growth factor peptides regulate the growth of the prostate. Large concentrations of epidermal growth factor are retained in prostate glands with benign prostatic hyperplasia.11 Preliminary evidence suggests that Cernitin® may control abnormal growth of the prostate gland by affecting the prostate’s concentration of epidermal growth factor.11
Research Validates Cernitin's® Effects
Another study found that longer treatment with Cernitin® was required for the prostate volume to decrease.13 In this trial, 79 men with benign prostatic hyperplasia treated with Cernitin® had a mean decease in prostate volume after one year of treatment, but no change in prostate volume at just three months.13 As in the other study, the men reported a significant improvement in subjective symptoms, urine flow rate, and residual urine volume as measured after three months of treatment.
The benefits of Cernitin® were also demonstrated in a well-designed, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 60 men with outflow obstruction due to benign prostatic hyperplasia.14 They were treated with Cernitin® (two capsules twice daily, containing 63 mg of pollen extract) or placebo for six months. The Cernitin® group had a statistically significant overall improvement in subjective symptoms compared to the placebo group. Nocturia (frequent urination at nighttime) was improved or eliminated in 60% of the patients treated with Cernitin® compared to 30% of the patients treated with placebo. In addition, 57% of patients treated with Cernitin® showed improvement in bladder emptying compared to only 10% in the placebo group. Residual urine volume also decreased significantly in the patients receiving Cernitin® compared to those receiving placebo. The Cernitin®-treated patients also had a significant decrease in prostate gland volume. The study authors concluded, “A longer duration of treatment or a larger dosage may produce a more pronounced benefit and Cernitin®, which appears to have no untoward side effects, may prove to be a useful agent in alleviating the early symptoms of outflow tract obstruction due to benign prostatic hyperplasia.”14
Cernitin® appears to be safe and well tolerated.3,4,12-14 No adverse reactions to its use have been reported.4 Cernitin® taken orally or presented in a sachet (a receptacle for scents) did not cause allergies in patients who are usually highly allergic to flower pollen.15
While clinical studies are needed for confirmation, using Cernitin® as a preventive agent also may hold advantages. Since the prostate gland grows with age and symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia take years to develop, using a product like Cernitin®, which has been shown to reduce the size of the prostate, may lessen the risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia. In addition, studies of human-derived prostate cancer cells suggest that the water-soluble fraction of Cernitin® may inhibit cancer cell growth.16