Urology Times, the leading newsmagazine for urologists, has chosen a recent USRF study as the lead article for the June '99 isssue. The issue is the annual post-AUA convention issue, and from that body of presentations (over 1500 this year), the editors selected peer-reviewed works of special interest.
The featured study is the first U.S. randomized clinical trial of saw palmetto extract (SPE) in the treatment of men with symptomatic BPH. Results of the USRF study were presented in two papers at the 94th annual meeting of the American Urological Association, held this year in Dallas, TX, May 1 - 6, 1999 Detailed results of the study are posted on this site in a slide show.
Liposterolic extracts of Saw palmetto (S. repens), a dwarf palm indigenous to the Southeastern U.S. and the West Indies, have been used as a BPH treatment for many years in Europe, but rigorously controlled studies (ie, meeting FDA standards) have not been previously performed in the U.S.
In brief, the USRF study demonstrated that SPE induces a statistically significant contraction in epithelial tissues, particularly in the transition zone (inner part) of the prostate gland. This finding was confirmed by two different techniques in two separate laboratories, and these data are the first objective evidence in man that SPE can induce measurable tissue changes. A comprehensive analysis of 18 European clinical studies, published last November in J.A.M.A., concluded that treatment with SPE "improves urologic symptoms and flow measures," in men with symptomatic BPH. Thus, the USRF work lends support to the European studies, although the USRF project did not include enough patients to detect symptomatic and uroflow differences between SPE- and placebo-treated groups.
Mac Overmyer, contributing editor for Urology Times and author of the article, concluded that "Given the demand for BPH remedies, the energetic search for saw palmetto's active ingredients and mechanisms of action will likely accelerate."
In an accompanying editorial, Claus G. Roehrborn, M.D., associate professor of urology at Southwestern Medical School, commented that "Leonard S. Marks, M.D. and Jonathan Epstein, M.D., the principal investigators, are to be congratulated for undertaking such a study (i.e., a randomized, controlled trial), particularly since their work looked at both the usual clinical parameters as well as very careful histological analyses." In his comment, Professor Roehrborn also noted that the study "will stimulate other researchers to look further into the mechanisms of phytotherapeutic agents and perform similarly detailed, scientifically sound studies, so we can better understand where these agents fit into our therapeutic armamentarium."
The USRF study was supported in part by an unrestricted educational grant from the Nutrilite Division of the Amway Corporation, Buena Park, CA. Urology Times is published by Advanstar Communications, Cleveland, OH. REPRINTS of the June, 1999 Urology Times article ("Saw palmetto Shown to Shrink Prostatic Epithelium") and the accompanying editorial are available by sending requests to: