Research & Education

Fixated on PSA? Why Chasing Numbers Doesn't Work

My 53-year-old male patient is in the waiting room.  Sweating a little. Blood pressure 143/90 moderately elevated (it's usually 125/80). This great guy a patient of mine father of 3 is anxiously waiting to have his PSA blood drawn.

What is PSA? 

Among physician's it's jokingly short for Patient Stimulated Anxiety. It really stands for Prostate Specific Antigen a misnomer. It turns out that PSA is found in many other tissues and fluids other than the prostate. In males there are PSA molecules in semen for example.

In women PSA molecules are found in female ejaculate (that's right females ejaculate too I know you did not know that) in breast milk and amniotic fluid.

Here's the kicker; PSA is found in a women's blood who have cervical uterine and breast cancer (Pummer et al. 1992 Mohajeri et al. 2011).

Ok sorry to digress a little. I have not answered the questions what is PSA?

PSA is a sugar molecule combined with a protein (referred to a glycoprotein in the scientific community). Its main role is to liquefy semen. You may have noticed that semen clumps up initially after ejaculation. Within a few minutes it liquefies due to the function of the molecule PSA. This anti-clumping aspect is important for procreation. Sperm cells swim better when they are loose and free.

PSA and men before Prostate Cancer diagnosis

Anything under 4ml/ng does not mean you don't have prostate cancer.  In fact 15% of men with a PSA under 4 develop prostate cancer (Thompson et al. 2004)

Generally speaking PSA is age related. For example a 40-year-old should have a PSA well under 1.0ml/ng (exception to the rule this individual may have an infection of his prostate causing his PSA to be above 4).

A 60 year-old with a PSA of 2 may be fine.

A steady trend upward even if the number is under 4  after three or four PSA tests may be more connected to prostate cancer once prostatitis or other benign conditions are ruled out.

FYI prostate enlargement or BPH may also cause the PSA to increase.

Other causes of false alarms:

1. The finger before the blood draw.  That's right a digital prostate exam before the blood draw will cause the PSA number to be higher (Collins et al. 1997).

You'd be surprised how many physicians do this >:-(.

Take charge. If you're going to get the finger get it after the blood draw.

2. Ejaculating 48 hours before the blood draw (Herschman et al. 1997).  I usually make my patients suffer and have them hold out 72 hours before a blood draw -  just playing it safe gents.

PSA false lower number

There are two things that cause a false lower PSA:

The meds Finesteride (Proscar) and Dustesteride (Avodart) falsely lowers PSA up to 50% (spelling may be off and trademark symbol was not applied apologies to Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKlein no disrespect)

Obesity: estrogen activity (which big men have more of) causes a decrease in PSA.

FYI: Obese men typically have worse cases of prostate cancer and a higher changes of prostate cancer relapse after treatment. (Cao 2011) Yet another motive for overweight men to get on the program and get in shape.

PSA in men after Prostate Cancer treatment

What's most frustrating to me about men who have had their prostates either removed or radiated is that they think they're home-free nothing to worry about. No need to follow an anti-cancer CaPLESS methodology anymore.For what? My cancer is out.


This is a case of what I call foolish denial.

If you're “home-free why is your physician still taking your PSA every 3 to 12 months for the next 10 years or so?

Answer: Because up to 40% of men treated for prostate cancer witness biochemical recurrence within 10 years (Ward et al 2005).

Now not all rising PSA after “curative treatment is due to cancer returning. But most is. Sometimes there's benign prostate tissue left behind.

Bottom line: Be proactive. Stop chasing numbers and start living life to the fullest. Live a lifestyle conducive to wellness and one that can significantly diminish the chances for prostate cancer recurrence a CaPLESS lifestyle. Everything else will take care of itself.

Speaking of which there's a few more spots opened for the CaPLESS retreat coming May 18th and 19thCLICK HERE for more information on the retreat.

This is no April fool's joke ladies and gentlemen. This is real. I encourage you all to continue to take charge to create a hostile cancer environment in your body

As always thank you for sharing with your friends and family on facebook and twitter.


More sources to read on this:

Six things to do before PSA test

15 things that raise PSA


by Geo Espinosa N.D. L.Ac CNS


Geo Espinosa N.D. L.Ac CNS is the Director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center. Before joining NYU Dr. Geo was a clinician researcher and director of clinical trials at the Center for Holistic Urology at Columbia University Medical Center. He is a licensed naturopathic doctor licensed acupuncturist and Certified Nutrition Specialist. Dr. Geo did his residency/fellowship in Urology at Columbia University Medical Center Department of Urology under Dr. Aaron Katz. His research and practice are exclusive to prostate disorders general urology and men's health. Dr. Geo is a member of the American Herbalist Guild the American Urological Association and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

Dr. Geo is an author of the naturopathic entry in "1000 Cures for 200 Ailments" by Harper Collins; March 2007 and "Prostate cancer Nutrients that may slow its progression" Chapter 40 in Food and Nutrients in Disease Management - Maryland: Cadmus Publishing 2009. He has authored papers on prostate cancer and BPH in the journal of European Urology and Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice respectively. In addition he has written on integrative approaches for urologic conditions in the Washington Post Body and Soul magazine NDNR Insight - Prostate Cancer Research Institute newsletter and Bottom line health.

Click here to visit Dr. Espinosa's blog 

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