Diet changes can help protect against prostate cancer

Things you should know

“It seems nearly all men will develop prostate cancer if they live long enough,” says Karen Collins, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., nutrition advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Thus, scientists have been searching for lifestyle measures that can help stack the odds in your favour. Promising research reveals three important diet strategies that can help you mount a defence: A plant-based diet, moderate dairy consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight.

A PLANT-BASED DIET

Focusing on a predominantly plant-based diet, which includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, is key to prostate cancer protection, according to Collins. This style of eating means that you fill up at least three-fourths of your plate with whole plant foods, such as beans, lentils, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

Here are a few plant foods recently being researched for their role in prostate cancer prevention:

1. Tomatoes. Tomatoes and tomato products, such as canned tomatoes and pasta sauce, are rich in carotenoids that impart red, yellow and orange colors. The most abundant carotenoid is lycopene, which studies have linked with cancer protection.

2. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy, are another good vegetable choice to include regularly.

3. Garlic. Some preliminary laboratory studies suggest that the compounds in garlic, such as the organosulfur compounds, may help slow the development and reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

4. Green tea. Polyphenols found in green tea arrest the growth of prostate cancer cells in laboratory studies.

5. Pomegranate. One clinical trial showed that drinking pomegranate juice may slow the progression of prostate cancer.

DON’T OVERDO DAIRY

Some research indicates that excess consumption of dairy products may increase prostate cancer risk. The EPIC Study, published in the European Journal of Cancer, found that dairy consumption above 27 grams of dairy protein and 880 milligrams (mg) of dairy calcium per day (the amount found in more than three cups of milk) was linked to increased risk.

Collins says, “The bottom line at this point is that men who want to consume dairy products need not be afraid that moderate consumption puts them at risk of prostate cancer. However, excess consumption should be avoided. Two or perhaps three standard servings per day appear safe.”

HEALTHY WEIGHT OBJECTIVE

One of the key strategies to lower cancer risk is to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
“Obesity is only weakly linked to prostate cancer incidence, but obesity is linked to increased risk of dying from prostate cancer,” says Collins. The most effective way to achieve a healthy weight is to increase physical activity – which on its own is linked with a 10 percent lower risk of prostate cancer – and increase the nutrient quality of your food choices.

RED MEAT AND PROSTATE CANCER

Some studies link prostate cancer with high amounts of red meat – in particular grilled or fried meats cooked at high temperatures till “well-done,” since carcinogenic compounds may form in meat under these conditions.

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