prostate cancer and diet
Prostate Cancer and Diet
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
Every man who lives long enough will develop prostate cancer, but it
is usually a very slow-growing cancer. Most men with prostate cancer
die from something else, not because of the cancer. Left untreated,
most prostate cancer will have no effect on the quality or duration
of a man's life.
Extensive research has failed to show that prostate cancer is caused
by infection. The only lead we have is diet. In 1995, Harvard
researchers showed that tomatoes reduce risk of prostate cancer, and
they cited lycopene, which belongs to the same class of chemicals
as beta carotene which is vitamin A, an antioxidant that helps
protect the genetic material in cells, called DNA, from becoming
cancerous. A study from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in
New York found low levels of prostate cancer in men who have high
levels of lycopene (from cooked tomatoes); and zeaxanthin and
lutein, found primarily in spinach and other green leafy vegetables.
Multiple studies by Dr. Ed Giovannucci of Harvard show that a
plant-based diet is the best way to help prevent prostate cancer.
A study from the Mayo Clinic shows that flavonoids found in apples,
onions, tea, and red wine, block hormones that cause prostate cancer
cells to divide and spread. A study from the University of Hawaii
showed that prostate cancer occurs much less frequently in men who
eat yellow and orange vegetables such as corn and carrots, and
cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
A report from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle
showed that men who eat three or more servings of vegetables a day
have a 48 percent reduction in prostate cancer compared to those who
don't eat vegetables. Other studies show that men who eat soy foods,
which are full of flavones, have a lower incidence of prostate
cancer. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish also have been shown to help
prevent prostate cancer. Sardines, salmon, tuna, herring and
mackerel are rich sources of omega-3's. Eating meat raises your
chances of developing prostate cancer. So does drinking large
amounts of milk and taking calcium supplements that deplete your
body of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are a major risk factor
for prostate cancer.
No one food prevents any specific disease. Soybeans do not prevent
prostate cancer, but soybeans may be part of a diet that helps to
prevent prostate cancer. At this time, the best diet to prevent
prostate cancer is loaded with fruits, vegetables, whole grains,
beans, nuts and other seeds, and deep-water fish; limits meat and
whole milk dairy products; and has ample amounts of vitamin D
(preferably from sunlight).