A few of my patients have asked me what I think about the latest news that prostate screening tests – known as PSA tests – are inaccurate.

It turns out that less than one in three men with high amounts of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in their bloodstream wind up having prostate cancer.1

Does that mean you shouldn’t bother getting screened for prostate cancer? Here’s the lowdown.

PSA is a protein your prostate cells make to improve the quality of your semen. So it’s perfectly normal and necessary to have a certain amount of PSA in your blood stream.

Cancer cells usually throw off more PSA, raising your levels. Tests are supposed to catch it in time.

The problem is there are other things that cause high PSA that have nothing to do with cancer.

For instance, you might have a larger prostate than a lot of other men. A bigger prostate means more prostate cells, which in turn produce more PSA.

An infection can also cause a rise in PSA.

The result is a lot of false positives… and a lot of men getting painful biopsies when they don’t need to.

To add to the confusion, a PSA test can also come back negative even when you do have early symptoms.

One reason is your PSA levels could be low to begin with. This can happen in younger men or those with unusually small prostates. The presence of cancer cells would raise your PSA… but not to levels considered high.

An infection can also cause a drop in PSA.

Finally, some drugs can artificially lower your PSA, including finasteride, which is a treatment to prevent prostate cancer.

The bottom line is you can easily preserve prostate health and sidestep nasty biopsies or powerful drugs. Here’s what I do in my own medical practice:

For early detection, PSA tests are still the best way to go. I test my patients regularly and often, especially if they’re over 50.

For prevention, you can preserve your prostate health naturally with herbs and extracts. Some have been used effectively for thousands of years. They’re completely safe—and they match up in clinical testing:

  • Saw palmetto. The “gold standard” in natural prostate care, it comes from the berry of a palm tree we’ve got right here in South Florida. Native Americans used it back in the 1700s to treat enlarged prostate and erectile dysfunction. They were onto something. Several major studies, including one published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, showed improvement across a range of prostate issues, especially for enlarged prostate.2 Take 350 mg per day of berry extract.
  • Nettle root. The root extract and leaf powder of the stinging nettle has been a widely used, effective treatment for years—overseas. A double-blind placebo controlled trial in Germany studied 41 men with enlarged prostate. After 3 months, those taking nettle extract reported twice the progress as the placebo group and experienced an improved urinary flow. I recommend 50 mg nettle root extract and 5 mg of nettle leaf powder daily.
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil. Rich in essential fatty acids and in zinc, both linked to prostate health and enlargement prevention. Get 25 mg per day.
  • Pomegranate Juice. A recent study in Clinical Cancer Research showed just 8 oz a day can work wonders. This antioxidant powerhouse slowed prostate cancer cell growth, lowered PSA, and improved sexual function in men who’d already undergone surgery or radiation treatment after 15 months.3

1. Wilbur, Jason. “Prostate Cancer Screening: The Continuing Controversy.” American Family Physician. 2008. 78(12):1377-1383.
2. Wilt et al. “Saw Palmetto Extracts for Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.” JAMA. 1998. 280(18):1604-9; and Wilt et al. “Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia.” Cochrane Database Systems Review. 2002. (3): CD001423.
3. Pantuck et al. “Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer.” Clinical Cancer Research. 2006. 12(13): 4018–26.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Al Sears, MD currently owns and operates a successful integrative medicine and anti-aging clinic in Florida with over 20,000 patients. His cutting edge therapies and reputation for solving some of the most difficult-to-diagnose cases attract patients from around the world.

Since the release of his book, The Doctor's Heart Cure, he has been interviewed on over two dozen nationally syndicated radio programs with an audience nationwide.

Dr. Sears recently published PACE: Rediscover Your Native Fitness and High Speed Fat Loss in 7 Easy Steps. Both became bestsellers during their first month of release.

Since 2001, he's published over 500 articles and 6 books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging and nutritional supplementation - with a readership of millions spread over 23 countries.

He currently publishes a monthly e-Newsletter - Health Confidential - and a twice-weekly e-mail broadcast - Doctor's House Call. He's also the featured health writer for the widely read newsletter Early to Rise, which publishes his Health Briefs three times a week.