Herbal and vitamin supplement use in a prostate cancer screening population

Urology. 2004 Feb;63(2):288-92. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2003.09.019.


Objectives: To report the observed usage trend of herbal and vitamin supplements in a population of men visiting a prostate cancer screening clinic and its relation to the Sexual Health Inventory for Men score and the American Urological Association Symptom Score (AUA-SS).

Methods: Men participating in the 2001 and 2002 Prostate Cancer Awareness Week screening for prostate cancer were given a self-administered questionnaire. The questions were designed to gather background health information and to determine the use of prescription medications for lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), as well as the use of herbal and vitamin supplements. In addition, the AUA-SS and Sexual Health Inventory for Men score were calculated for each participant in the study.

Results: The number of questionnaires completed was 12,457. Of the completed questionnaires, 70% of the participants reported the use of multivitamins, and 21% reported the use of herbal supplements. Ten percent of all men reported the use of prescription medications for LUTS (AUA-SS greater than 15). Of the men reporting the use of prescription medications, 19% were taking finasteride, 17% doxazosin, 20% terazosin, 23% tamsulosin, and 22% other prescription medications. Moreover, the average AUA-SS was greater for the men taking herbs or supplements than for those who did not take herbs or supplements (P <0.001). Nonetheless, the Sexual Health Inventory for Men score did not show a positive correlation between the intake of alternative medications and the severity of erectile dysfunction.

Conclusions: We observed that a substantial proportion of men with LUTS participating in a national prostate cancer screening program were not taking prescription medications for these symptoms. Furthermore, we observed that men taking herbs or vitamin supplements tended to have higher AUA scores. Additional investigation is warranted into the reason some men are not receiving standard prescription medications for LUTS and whether reliance on alternative treatments is playing a role in this phenomenon.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / prevention & control*
  • Adenocarcinoma / psychology
  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colorado
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Doxazosin / therapeutic use
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Family
  • Finasteride / therapeutic use
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening* / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Penile Erection
  • Phytotherapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Prazosin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Prazosin / therapeutic use
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / complications
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Self Medication / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sulfonamides / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tamsulosin
  • Urination Disorders / drug therapy
  • Urination Disorders / etiology
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Plant Preparations
  • Sulfonamides
  • Vitamins
  • Finasteride
  • Terazosin
  • Tamsulosin
  • Doxazosin
  • Prazosin