Nutrition may prevent prostate cancer

Nutrition may prevent prostate cancer

May 24, 2010  |  Men's Health

Prostate cancer is a male problem

What is prostate cancer?
The male prostate is a gland that makes and stores semen.  It is located below your bladder and surrounds the tube that carries urine out of your body.  When cells in your prostate become cancerous, they divide and grow until they form a mass of tissue called a tumor.  The tumor can press against your urethra and bladder.

Symptoms: Frequent or difficult urination, dribbling, blood in urine, painful urination, painful ejaculation, hip or back pain.

Prevention through nutrition

There is a growing body of thinking that poor nutrition is a substantial cause of prostate cancer.  Prevention is no small deal considering how many men end up suffering from the disease.

Beta carotene

A recent study found that men with low levels of beta carotene were 45% more likely to develop prostate cancer than men with high levels.  Look for beta carotene in carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and apricots.

Broccoli and tomatoes when eaten together may reduce prostate tumors

According to Life Extension, a diet enhanced with tomato and broccoli powders helps shrink tumors in an animal model of prostate cancer.  The combination is more effective than either vegetable extract alone according to a recent report.

In a study of rats with implanted prostate cancer tumors (better rats than humans for this study), the animals receive broccoli powder, tomato powder, a combination of both a drug used to treat prostate enlargement (lycopene or finasteride) or were surgically castrated (ouch).

After 22 weeks of treatment, rats that received broccoli and tomato powder experienced greater shrinkage of their tumors than animals in any other group.

Cruciferous vegetables

The cruciferous, or brassica family of vegetables stood out in the above study.
They include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi.   Study participants who ate these vegetables three or more times a week lowered their risk by over 40%.  This family of vegetables contain sulfurophanes, chemicals that neutralize cancer-causing substances before they can do damage.

Deep frying

Deep frying is usually done with saturated fats.  Unfortunately, that is not healthy for the male prostate.

Men who frequently eat fish are up to three times less likely to get prostate cancer than men who ate little or no fish.  Fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon, herring, and mackerel seem to take the best bets for reducing risk.  Of course you need to be careful of the mercury content in the fish you eat.


Flaxseeds also contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids plus fiber and lignans.  For maximum benefits buy flaxseeds in bulk at a health food store, and then grind them just before sprinkling them on your salad, cereal, or yogurt.  Fresh flaxseed is very good for you.  Bear in mind that once ground the seeds can lose their enzyme activity quickly, which is why you should ground them just before consumption.

Green tea

Green tea could be one reason why men in Asia have far fewer cases of prostate cancer than Western men.  It is believed that chemicals in the tea called catechins act like sharpshooters, tracking down tumor cells before they can harm healthy prostate cells.  You can buy bags or loose leaves at your local grocery store, steep in hot but not boiling water, and then enjoy.


This seems to be the most promising of the carotenoids, the chemicals that give veggies their bright colors.  To get more of this substance, simply eat a lot of tomatoes.


MUFA stands for monounsaturated fatty acids.  This is a beneficial fat that may help to protect your prostate.  In one study, subjects who ate at least one teaspoon of olive, canola, or peanut oil – all good sources of MUFAs – had a 50% lower risk of cancer than those who didn’t include MUFAs in their diet.  Avocados and peanuts are another great way to enjoy MUFAs.

Pomegranate Juice   It tastes like raspberries and has been used in Persian medicine for thousands of years. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are well confirmed; studies show it can reduce the development of even the most aggressive prostate cancers (among others). Drinking it daily slows the spread of an established prostate cancer by more than 50%.
Quercitin is a natural flavonoid that seems to stop tumor cells from growing.  It’s found in foods from apples, onions, and leafy greens to red wine and tea.

Red meat

The less red meat the better because of its saturated fat.  If you do eat meat, you want as little fat in the meat as possible.

Saw palmetto
According to the Consumer Lab website:
“Saw Palmetto may not work.  It’s used by many men hoping to reduce urinary symptoms caused by benign growth of the prostate, or BPH, but a new, well-designed study suggests that it doesn’t work. Some other recent research suggest the same. Even when doubling and tripling the standard dose, the high-quality saw palmetto extract used in the new study failed to provide benefit.

“What should you do? You may want to consider a different supplement — beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol. The evidence remains fairly good for beta-sitosterol. To find out more about saw palmetto, beta-sitosterol, and the supplements we have tested, see the Prostate Supplements Review at Consumer”

In another study selenium supplements reduced the number of prostate cancers diagnosed.  While getting the RDA of 55 micrograms could be enough to protect you consider supplementation.  Selenium is found in bran, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chicken cucumbers, eggs, garlic, milk, mushrooms, and wheat germ.

Veggies – all kinds

A recent study showed that you could reduce your risk of the disease by 35% if you eat 24 or more vegetable servings a week, compared with 14 servings or less.

Vitamin D

Recent research suggests that vitamin D may slow the growth of prostate cancer.  So enjoy the sun, take cod liver oil in the winter, and consider supplementation.

Vitamin E

This powerful antioxidant may also offer some protection against prostate cancer.  So, eat whole-grain cereals, wheat germ, and dark-green vegetables.


Researchers have discovered that when prostate tissue becomes cancerous, its zinc levels drop.  Coincidence?  Don’t know.  You can’t go wrong consuming selenium regularly as found in pumpkin seeds.  Eat a handful a day.

Before taking large dozes of zinc as a supplement, please consult with your doctor because too much can be dangerous.

Online resources:   Science Daily June 3, 2009

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