Context: Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) produces lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) that diminish quality of life. Conventional treatments are often accompanied by adverse side effects. By contrast, consumers of phytochemicals-based dietary supplements often report a reduction in symptoms without side effects. The field needs studies that quantify the strength and character of perceived benefits.
Objectives: The study intended to quantify the character and strength of perceived improvements in LUTS in men, after the consumption of a prostate health supplement.
Design: The research team sent questionnaires to 200 potential participants, requesting their self-reported retrospective assessments of their LUTS for the month prior to starting their use of a prostate health supplement, ProstaCaid (ie, at baseline from memory), and their assessments at the time of the study (ie, postintervention) based on their current symptoms.
Setting: The study was conducted from consumers of ProstaCaid at their home through a mailed questionnaire from Econugenics (Santa Rosa, CA, USA).
Participants: Participants were 65 male patients, ages 56 to 86 y, including those diagnosed with BPH, prostate cancer, or multiple diagnoses, or who had no formal diagnosis.
Interventions: Participants had taken at least 2 capsules/d of the supplement for a minimum of 2 mo.
Outcome measures: Participants were asked to recall and rate urinary tract symptoms: (1) incomplete emptying (ie, sensation of not emptying the bladder), (2) urinary frequency, (3) intermittency, (4) urgency, (5) weak stream, (6) straining, and (7) nocturia, (ie, how many times the participant typically gets up at night to urinate). A questionnaire based on the international prostate symptom score questionnaire was used. Logistic regressions, based on the proportional odds ratios of LUTS scores, were used for statistical analysis.
Results: The participants reported substantial improvements in a range of individual and composite LUTS scores. In addition, the variability of current scores was substantially reduced compared with recalled, past scores, indicating that the perceived improvements were shared among the respondents. Statistical analysis identified urgency and weak stream as the symptoms showing the greatest reduction in perceived severity, which therefore could be used as the subject of future case-controlled studies.
Conclusions: When properly interpreted, retrospective, self-reported data can yield insights into the perceived benefits of supplements and help guide the care of patients who augment traditional treatment with alternative medicines. Reported improvements can also guide the development of testable hypotheses for randomized, case-controlled studies.