Is there any evidence to support the efficacy of saw palmetto in preventing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate cancer, or prostatitis? Is the new prescription drug containing saw palmetto, various forms of vitamins E and B, lycopene, selenium, and zinc (Udamin SP) of any value?
—Stanley Lostern, MD, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Saw palmetto is the most popular agent from the category of phytotherapeutic materials currently being marketed for the treatment of BPH. However, the efficacy of this agent has never been conclusively proven in double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials (Urol Clin North Am. 2002;29:23-29). The National Cancer Institute has been recruiting patients for the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) in order to answer part of the question Dr. Ostern raises. It may be several years before there is a reliable answer.
—David T. Noyes, MD (112-9)