3 October 2011
Saw palmetto slammed as prostate remedy
by George Atkinson
Saw palmetto, a popular supplement believed to relieve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, has instead been found to have no effect on prostate health at all, claim researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The supplement is popular with older men who take it in an attempt to reduce the bothersome symptoms of a swollen prostate, including frequent urination and a sense of urgency. Its use in Europe is even more widespread, as doctors often recommend saw palmetto rather than more conventional drug treatments.
In the new study, the men took up to three times the standard dose of saw palmetto. "Now we know that even very high doses of saw palmetto make absolutely no difference," says study co-author Gerald Andriole, from the Washington University School of Medicine. "Men should not spend their money on this herbal supplement as a way to reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate because it clearly does not work any better than a sugar pill."
The study ran for 17 months and compared various doses of saw palmetto with placebo. The researchers found that among the men who took saw palmetto, their prostate problems improved slightly, but not more than in the men taking a placebo.
"We commonly see this in clinical trials," Andriole explained. "Patients often report an improvement in symptoms because they are taking something, even if it is a placebo. But in this study, there was no benefit to taking saw palmetto over the placebo."
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Source: Washington University School of Medicine