Health supplements have increasingly been popular among different population groups depending on their specific needs. However, researchers found that these men's pills do not offer benefits to patients with prostate cancer.

The study involved 2,200 men, who have just been recently diagnosed with local prostate cancer. They investigated these patients' supplement use and found that about one in two of them takes a kind of dietary supplement, the majority of which were not consulted with their doctors.

The participants were aged 36 years and older and received radiation therapy between 2001 and 2012. Approximately 10 percent of them were consuming one or more of about 50 varieties of men's health supplements during or within the subsequent four years.

The pills in question in this research had labels that include "recommended by urologists" or "clinically proven" and were presented to consumers as "men's formula." Some even claimed that the pills had anti-cancer properties. Dr. Nicholas Zaorsky, lead author of the study and a resident physician in radiation oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center said these drugs have not undergone studies and subjected to minimal oversight.

Palmetto was found in more than 90 percent of the supplements. The said substance is a plant extract that has often claimed but has not been proven to treat enlarged prostate. Other components of the pills were not identified as it was only labeled "trade secret enzyme" or "other."

The intake of these supplements was not linked to any negative side effects; however, after considering lifestyle parameters like diet, exercise and smoking, the total survival rate of supplement users and non-users had no difference. In the end, the team said that men's health supplements had no benefits in terms of improving prostate cancer prognosis.

"We suspected that these pills were junk. Our study confirmed our suspicion," said Zaorsky.

Men's health supplements are popular, but the authors concluded that it does not appear to reduce the risk of necessitating radiation therapies, metastasis or mortality.

Duffy MacKay from the Council for Responsible Nutrition begs to disagree with the study results. He said that health supplements have undergone clinical trials, although not necessarily designed for prostate cancer. "I don't know what research databases they're looking at," MacKay said. "But they are not offering scientific evidence to support their position." He added that these supplements do not claim that they can treat diseases because they are prohibited from doing so.

The study was presented in American Society for Radiation Oncology on Sunday, Oct. 18.

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