Prostate Cancer and Nutrition – Is There a Link? – Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men with 186,000 diagnosed every year.The research on this type of cancer is far from simple. There are two varieties of the disease; one indolent and grows slowly, and the other is aggressive and spreads to other parts of the body-metastatic. Therefore, what may prevent one type may not prevent the other, and what slows down one type may not slow down the other.Risk factors for developing prostate cancer are being over 65 years old, African-American, and having a father, son, or brother diagnosed with the disease. While you cannot prevent aging or change your race or family, you can do something about your diet. Here are the top 10 lifestyle changes that may prevent or slow its progression if diagnosed.Aim for a Healthy Weight and a Slim WaistIn the Cancer Prevention Study II that followed almost 70,000 men for 10 years, those who lost more than 11 pounds were less likely to get diagnosed with the non-metastatic form. Another study found that obesity and weight gain during adulthood “increased the risk of dying from prostate cancer.”Abdominal fat promotes inflammation, a process that contributes to prostate cancer development. With excess dietary calories, this abdominal fat continues to grow at a rate faster than the blood can supply it with nutrients. Fat cells then get inflamed and die, and white blood cells come to clean them up through oxidation-releasing oxygen and nitrogen radicals. Because inflammation reduces anti-oxidants’ ability to turn these free radicals off when their job is done, they start attacking normal cells, including the prostate, and causing tumors. Aim for the “normal weight” of the body mass index (BMI). Your waist should measure less than 40 inches.Eat Less Charred Meats Overcooking red meat and white meat with skin at high temperatures, such as charbroiling or pan-frying, triggers the production of carcinogens related to prostate cancer. One study found that the risk of getting diagnosed increased by 40% when men ate 2 1/2 ounces of well-done meat a week. In another study, hamburgers were the most linked to prostate cancer.Reduce the amount of carcinogens in your diet by baking, steaming, and sauteing red meat. If you must grill, turn the meat frequently to prevent the chars from forming. Include non-red-meat proteins to your diet frequently, such as chicken or turkey breast, fish, soy, beans, and lentils.FishA study found that people who ate three servings of fish a week were at a lower risk of getting diagnosed with prostate cancer compared to those who ate fish less than twice a month. The types of fish consumed were canned tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, bluefish, swordfish, and others not specified. If you are worried about mercury contamination, avoid king mackerel, swordfish, tilefish, and shark. Do not count on supplements, though. The study did not find a link between fish oil supplements and prostate cancer risk.TomatoesTwo servings of lycopene-rich processed tomatoes a week may help ward off prostate cancer. This anti-oxidant from the carotinoids family is more concentrated and better absorbed in processed compared to raw tomatoes. Research; however, does not recommend lycopene supplements. Other compounds in tomatoes might be responsible for the reduced risk or necessary for lycopene to work. A serving of tomato sauce is one cup.Green VegetablesA high vegetable intake can lower the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels’ sprouts, and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, mustard, and turnip greens are the most powerful. These vegetables stimulate the production of enzymes that break down the carcinogens caused by overcooked and charbroiled meat.Green TeaRich in anti-oxidants, 5 cups of green tea a day reduced the risk of developing prostate cancer by half for 50,000 Japanese men. Since 5 cups are not practical for most, research is looking into a concentrated form of green tea extract but no specific recommendations were made. So for the time being, aim for those 5 cups.PomegranatesDrinking 8 ounces of 100% pomegranate juice a day for 2 years slowed down the progression of prostate cancer in men who went through surgery or radiation treatments. Whether pomegranates prevent prostate cancer is still unknown, but their good taste and anti-oxidant capacity are good enough reasons to add this fruit to your diet.FlaxseedAlthough a small study found that adding 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily reduced the growth of prostate cancer cells, the authors were cautious to make any recommendations. However, flaxseed oil supplements may have an opposite effect. While the seeds have fiber and antioxidants that fight off cancer, the concentrated oil does not. It is also high in ALA, a fatty acid linked with increased risk for prostate cancer. Until further research recommends otherwise, stick to the ground seeds. Store them in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage.SoySoy products have a protective effect against prostate cancer. In countries where soy consumption is high, prostate cancer rates are low. One study found that drinking 12 ounces of soy milk a day was associated with a lower level of estrogen in men, a hormone that is linked with increased prostate cancer risk.ExerciseWe cannot talk about nutrition for prostate cancer without bringing up exercise. Men over 65 years old who engaged in 3 hours of vigorous activity a week reduced their risk of developing the advanced form or their risk of dying from the disease. In another study, men 42-73 years old who walked 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week saw a reduced growth rate of prostate cancer cells.Do Not Overdo These:ZincAs an anti-oxidant found naturally in the prostate and important for reproduction function, it is one of the most popular supplements marketed to protect the prostate. However, when men took more than 100 milligrams of zinc a day, the risk of developing prostate cancer doubled. In one study, men who took 80 milligrams of zinc were hospitalized for conditions such as benign enlarged prostate, urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or kidney failure. When it comes to zinc, more can be worse. Stick to the Recommended Daily Allowance of 15 milligrams a day and do not go over the tolerable upper limit of safety, which is 40 milligrams a day.CalciumMore calcium does not always mean better. Studies found that men who consume more than 1,500 milligrams calcium a day were more likely to get prostate cancer. However, whether excessive dairy products increase the risk or not is still unknown. Reap the benefit of dairy products without increasing your risk of prostate cancer by striving for 2-3 servings of dairy a day, but not more. Watch out for foods and beverages fortified with calcium, and remember that antacids, such as Tums, have calcium in them too. If you are taking a supplement, do not exceed 1,200 milligrams a day. The Recommended Daily Allowance of calcium is 1,000 milligrams a day for men 19-50 years old and 1,200 milligrams a day for men over 50.SeleniumWhile it helped lower prostate cancer risk in those who are already deficient, it did not make a difference in men who have normal levels of selenium. The implication of this is that many men are overdosing this supplement, which can be toxic and can increase the risk of diabetes as well. Before you start a selenium supplement, or any supplement for that matter, consult with your doctor to test your current level. And while the tolerable upper limit of safety is 400 micrograms daily, most studies do not exceed 200 micrograms a day. Stick to the latter.Vitamin EWhile it reduced prostate cancer risk in smokers, who are already deficient, vitamin E did not have an effect for non-smokers in one study. In fact, another concluded that healthy men taking 400 IU/d of vitamin E might have a higher risk of prostate cancer. Men taking blood-thinning medications need to be on the watch. Too much vitamin E can increase their risk of bleeding. The Tolerable Upper Limit of vitamin E is 30 IU.Saw PalmettoAccording to the American Cancer Society, there is not enough evidence that saw palmetto could prevent or treat prostate cancer. It may, however, reduce the symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is non-cancerous enlarged prostate gland.A diet rich in vegetables and fruits, fish, and healthy oils, combined with regular exercise, can help prevent or slow the progression of prostate cancer. Stick to wholesome foods and do not count on supplements. They do not work.Contact me if you need the references used in the article.Copyrights Nour El-Zibdeh. 2009.