Taking testosterone? Cacao protects your prostate

Phenols found in cacao can help users of testosterone, and possibly also other anabolic steroids, to protect their prostate. Animal studies funded by the Barry Callebaut Group, the manufacturer of the phenol-rich preparation Acticoa, have shown this to be the case.

Acticoa & cacao
Acticoa is a patented product based on green cacao beans. It consists of 35 percent polyphenols – and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that cacao-polyphenols have wildly interesting properties. Especially in sponsored studies, we add grimly. For an overview of what we’ve written about the miraculous effects of cacao click here.

In 2007-2008 researchers at the private French research institute ETAP [etap-lab.com] published the results of a number of animal studies on the effects of Acticoa on the prostate. At the time we paid no attention to these, to be honest because we didn’t know whether we should take Acticoa seriously or not. It reeked of commercialism. Even before the studies were published the sponsor had acquired the patent for using Acticoa in products intended to protect against prostate enlargement. [US 8435576 B2; EP1841779A2; US20090023803; WO2006079731A2; WO2006079731A3]

In 2012 our opinion shifted. In that year the EFSA approved a health claim submitted by the Barry Callebaut Group. [EFSA Journal 2012;10(7):2809.] Although the claim was related to the cardiovascular effects of phenols found in cacao – “Cocoa flavonols help maintain endothelium-dependent vasodilation, which contributes to normal blood flow” – EFSA approval indicated that Acticoa is not just hot air.

In 2008 ETAP researchers published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention the results of a study in which they had injected rats with testosterone propionate and the carcinogen N-methyl nitrosourea [C]. [Eur J Cancer Prev. 2008 Feb;17(1):54-61.] Some of the rats were also given Acticoa powder orally, in doses of 24 or 48 mg/kg bodyweight/day.

The cacao extract inhibited the contraction of prostate cancer and extended the rats’ lifespan. The figure below shows that the rats that had been given 24 mg Acticoa lived almost as long as the animals that had not been injected with the carcinogen.


In another animal study the researchers focused purely on the effect of testosterone propionate. The human equivalent of the dose the researchers used would be about 80-100 mg testosterone propionate per day. These days that’s regarded as a ‘beginner’s cycle’.

Phenols found in cacao can help users of testosterone, and possibly also other anabolic steroids, to protect their prostate. Animal studies funded by the Barry Callebaut Group, the manufacturer of the phenol-rich preparation Acticoa, have shown this to be the case.


Administration lasted three weeks, and in that period the animals’ prostate grew. That’s to be expected, as androgens like testosterone enlarge the prostate. In itself prostate enlargement, or prostate hypertrophy as doctors call it, is not necessarily a problem, but an enlarged prostate can be a sign of the first stages of prostate cancer. The researchers wanted to know whether administering Acticoa could inhibit prostate enlargement, so they gave their experimental animals 24 or 48 mg Acticoa per kg bodyweight daily in oral form. By the time the testosterone course started the rats had been on Acticoa for two weeks.

The figure below shows that while Acticoa didn’t stop the prostate from growing, it did inhibit the rate of growth.


Human dosage
An estimate of the highest human equivalent dose would be about 7.8 mg per kg bodyweight per day. So if you weigh 90 kg that would amount to 700 mg per day.

Preventive effects of ACTICOA powder, a cocoa polyphenolic extract, on experimentally induced prostate hyperplasia in Wistar-Unilever rats.


Plant extracts are useful in the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This study investigates whether ACTICOA (Barry Callebaut France, Louviers, France) powder (AP), a cocoa polyphenolic extract, could prevent prostate hyperplasia induced by testosterone propionate (TP) in rats. Male Wistar-Unilever rats were randomly divided in four groups of 12 rats: one negative control group receiving subcutaneous injections of corn oil and treated with vehicle and three groups injected subcutaneously with TP and treated with the vehicle (positive control) or AP at 24 (AP24) and 48 (AP48) mg/kg/day. Treatments were given orally and started 2 weeks before the induction of prostate hyperplasia. The influence of TP and AP on body weights and food and water consumption of rats was examined. On day 36, rats were sacrificed, and the prostates were removed, cleaned, and weighed. The prostate size ratio (prostate weight/rat body weight) was then calculated. TP significantly influenced the body weight gain of the rats and their food and water consumption, while AP at both doses tested reduced significantly these differences. TP significantly increased prostate size ratio (P < .001), and this induced increase was significantly inhibited in AP-treated rats in comparison with positive controls (P < .001) in a dose-dependent manner. We conclude that AP can prevent TP-induced prostate hyperplasia and therefore may be beneficial in the management of BPH. PMID: 18158832 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18158832

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