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Prostate Cancer

Saw Palmetto Side Effects

06/20/2005

Question:

I`m 56 and, on the advice of my family physician, have been taking Saw Palmetto extract (160 mg x2 daily) as a preventive. She also told me recently my prostate is "slightly enlarged." I`ve recently read that Saw Palmetto can cause testosterone to "aromatize" into estrogen and thereby pose a cancer risk. I`ve also heard it may artificially lower a PSA reading and thus mask the presence of prostate cancer. This concerns me because I had an uncle who died of prostate cancer. Is there anything to these claims of side effects? Do I need to worry about an artificially low PSA test? Thanks.

Answer:

Very little is known about both the positive and negative impact of this agent. It does have some impact on certain endocrine pathways as you describe but it is not certain whether these have any deleterious effects. I would suggest you have a serum testosterone and PSA and evaluate these results to determine if you want to stay on the medication.

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Response by:

Martin I Resnick, MD Martin I Resnick, MD
Formerly, Professor of Urology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University