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Prostate Cancer and Diet

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).

Checked 12/21/12

May 16th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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