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Lifestyle After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

It looks more and more as if prostate cancer is a metabolic disease that is influenced by your lifestyle. Extensive research has failed to show association between infections and prostate cancer risk, but following a healthful diet and lifestyle has been associated with reduced risk for the aggressive type of prostate cancer that can spread and kill. Two recent studies support this theory.

Of more than 500 Swedish men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer, those who consumed three glasses of whole milk per day were more likely to die of their cancers than those who drank skim milk, and significantly more likely to die of their cancers than those who drank no milk or less than one glass of any milk per day (International Journal of Cancer, Feb 13, 2017). At the time of diagnosis, the average prostate cancer patient in this study took in more than five servings per day of dairy products.

Another study of almost 1000 men who had radical surgery to remove their cancerous prostates, eating daily red meat, eggs, poultry or fish was associated with increased risk for advanced prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis, and substituting poultry or fish for red meat was associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer recurring (Cancer Prevention Research, Sept 22, 2016).

Previous Studies
A study of almost 1000 doctors diagnosed with localized prostate cancer followed for more than five years showed that those who ate lots of vegetables, fruits, fish, beans, and whole grains were at decreased risk of cancer spread; and those who ate processed and red meats, high-fat dairy and refined grains were at increased risk for the cancer spreading through their bodies (Cancer Prev Res (Phila), Jun 2015;8(6):545-51).

A study of almost 4000 men with localized prostate cancer found that those who took three or more servings of dairy each day were at increased risk for their cancers spreading to other parts of their bodies, but they were not more likely to die during that limited study period (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, Mar 2012;21(3):428-36).

Diet and Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer
Increased risk for developing prostate cancer has been associated with eating a lot of red meat and dairy products while decreased risk has been associated with eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and beans. No specific vegetable or fruit has been proved to decrease risk; the proposed protective effect of lycopene in tomatoes has not been proven. Data show that vitamin and mineral supplements (vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D or selenium) do not help to prevent prostate cancer and high intake of calcium has been associated with increased risk for prostate cancer.

High Rates of Prostate Cancer
Almost all North American men will develop prostate cancer if they live long enough, but only a very small percentage will die from it. More than 50 percent of North American men will develop prostate cancer by age 60 (J Natl Cancer Inst, (2013) 105 (14): 1050-1058). A review of 29 studies showed that five percent of men already have prostate cancer at age 30 years of age, while 60 percent of men will have that cancer by age 80 (Int J Cancer, 2015 Oct 1; 137(7): 1749–1757). Prostate cancer, unlike most other cancers, grows very slowly and does not kill the vast majority of men who have it. More than 95 percent of all prostate cancers grow very slowly and are very unlikely to kill a person. However, a small number of prostate cancers are called rapidly progressive, grow rapidly and can have a fatal outcome. Unfortunately, at this time there is no reliable test to distinguish between the two types. Under the current standard of care, if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, you and your doctor must choose between no treatment and frequent testing, called "watchful waiting," or treatment with surgery or radiation.

My Recommendations for Men with Prostate Cancer
• Whatever treatment you choose, it appears that you may be able to decrease your chances of prostate cancer spreading or recurring if you eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds, and severely restrict red meat, sugar added foods, sugared drinks including fruit juices. fried foods and non-fermented dairy products.

• If indeed prostate cancer is a metabolic disease (sharing the same risk factors as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and so forth), you should try to exercise every day and avoid overweight and vitamin D deficiency. 

February 19th, 2017
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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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