Listen Up Fellas! Your Prostate Wants More Fruits & VeggiesCancer
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men!
How common is it?
To give you an idea, the American Cancer Society estimates that during 2018 there will be almost 165,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed. This translates to 1 in 9 men being diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. It also is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer. One in 41 men will die from prostate cancer.
Given these numbers, it is not surprising that there is an enormous body of research about the benefits of early detection of prostate cancer. There are many steps that men – and their families – can take to prevent it or increase the odds of better treatment outcomes if they have already been diagnosed. It’s also not surprising that much of this research has centered on the roles of testing and lifestyle, and especially nutrition, in combatting this all-too-common cancer.
To Test or Not to Test
Perhaps one of the most confusing pieces of advice about preventing prostate cancer in recent years is whether men should get the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test or take a “cautious waiting” approach, unless they have clear symptoms or risk factors. A PSA test looks for signs of prostate cancer by measuring the amount of the prostate-specific antigen in your blood. The upside of this test is that it can help catch prostate cancer before it causes serious symptoms. In some cases, this means you may need less aggressive treatment if you were to actually develop prostate cancer.
African-American men, specifically, may want to consider getting a PSA test. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that the incidence of prostate cancer in African-American men is almost 60% higher and the mortality rate is two to three times greater than in Caucasian men.
Another complex part of prostate cancer is that because it usually grows very slowly, not all prostate cancers are alike. Some older men will not die from the disease (but it certainly may affect quality of life, especially sexually). So the jury is out on whether using the PSA test to find and treat prostate cancer before symptoms occur will improve health or help a man live longer, in all cases. For these reasons, the PSA may not be recommended for some men, especially those over 70 or those without any symptoms or risk factors.
Risk factors for prostate cancer to consider when deciding with your doctor on which screening to do, include:
- Age – Your risk for prostate cancer increases steadily as your age, to where this cancer affects 1 in 14 men between the ages of 60 and 69.
- Race – As mentioned, and for reasons not yet determined, black men carry a greater risk of prostate cancer than do men of other races; in black men, prostate cancer is also more likely to be aggressive or advanced.
- Lipid Profile - Numerous studies have suggested a relationship between high triglycerides and cholesterol and your risk for prostate cancer.
- Weight – Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be more likely to have advanced disease that's more difficult to treat.
- Family History - If men in your family have had prostate cancer, your risk may be increased.
The Role of Nutrition in Preventing Prostate Cancer
Medical research supports the notion that nutrition, as part of a healthier lifestyle, may have a great impact on preventing and better managing prostate cancer. And if you look at cancer in general, current thinking is that some 30 -35 percent of ALL cancers can be directly attributed to diet.
Differences in diet also may account for the variability of prostate cancer rates in different countries since a high-fat diet stimulates increased testosterone levels, which is known to be associated with prostate cancer growth. But, until recently, it was somewhat difficult to determine exactly how strong of a link there is between a high-fat diet and the growth and spread of prostate cancer.
That link is now quantified by a recent study funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This study clearly shows there is indeed a strong relationship between prostate cancer and eating a lot of fat, due to the cellular changes a high-fat diet makes on a molecular level that have an impact on prostate cancer metastasis.
During this study, researchers found that metastatic tumors were literally full of fat and that a high-fat diet promoted the development of aggressive and metastatic prostate cancer in lab animals. It is important to note, however, that the study didn’t definitively show that a high-fat diet, rather than the resulting obesity, was what increased the risk of the cancer. But either way, it is clear that there are health benefits to limiting high-fat food in your diet and maintaining an ideal body weight.
The study also showed that your overall diet – what you eat on a consistent basis rather than every now and then – is generally more relevant than any single isolated nutrient.
Supporting this idea is a recent report released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on how multiple clinical studies show that the combination of diet, exercise and positive lifestyle changes may play a role in slowing the progression, mortality and overall disease burden (the combination of financial cost, morbidity and mortality) for high-grade and fatal prostate cancer.
How to Be Proactive?
The first step to being proactive is knowing what symptoms to look out for so that you can share them with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They may include:
- Frequent urination, especially at nights
- Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Difficulty having an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Bone pain
The second – and equally important – step you can take is to make sure you are including good nutrition and healthy lifestyle changes in your arsenal against prostate cancer. This includes making the following changes to your diet:
- Eat anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-packed foods. Many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents are found in colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, spices, and polyphenol-rich drinks such as pomegranate juice and green and black teas. Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood contain anti-inflammatory properties that may also help reduce your prostate cancer risk.
- Munch on veggies with protective properties. Certain vegetables and plant foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, wasabi and horseradish contain protective “phytochemicals” that may reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
- Get plenty of natural fiber. You can get fiber from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains such as whole-grain breads and cereals. There are indications that these may reduce cancer risk and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression.
- Reduce the amount of simple sugars. Limit sweets such as candy, cookies, cakes, pies and other ultra-processed foods. Especially limit the amount of refined flours in your diet.
- Choose the fat you eat wisely. Foods like meats (especially bacon, salami and other processed meats), certain oils (like palm oil) and dairy products (such as milk and cheese) are high in saturated fat. You should limit your intake of these foods, but keep in mind that there are healthy-fat foods like avocado, walnuts and olive oil. You still need to eat healthy fats in moderation.
- Get your nutrients from fresh food rather than supplements. It’s always better to get your nutrients from food rather than taking supplements. Getting them in their more natural forms will help your body better absorb and process them. But if your doctor recommends taking supplements, make sure you get them from a reliable source.
And more evidence is needed, but a study from Harvard showed that men who are coffee drinkers may have a lower prostate cancer risk.
The most proactive thing you can do is focus on good nutrition, moderation and early detection. Lastly, it is also imperative that you do not smoke. There is definitely a link between smoking cigarettes and prostate cancer.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of healthcare and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.