Prostate Cancer: News and Recommendations
By Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among males, following skin cancer. It is currently most common in men over 50 years of age. An estimated 1 in 5 men will be diagnosed with cancer. Prostate cancer involves the prostate, an organ associated with the male reproductive system. We spoke last week about breast cancer and wanted to continue to raise the awareness of our EALM readers by covering the ins and outs of prostate cancer; including nutritional and lifestyle recommendations to benefit the health of men.
Causes and Contributing Factors:
As of now, the medical community has no knowledge of a definitive cause of prostate cancer. However, the American Cancer Society has highlighted some documented risk factors:
- Prostate cancer is more common in men over the age of 50. And about 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men over the age of 65.
- It has been suggested to run in families. In fact, having a brother or father with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer himself.
- Some studies have suggested that inherited mutations of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (seen in families with higher risks of breast and ovarian cancers) may increase the risk in some men. Though these genes most likely account for a smaller percentage of prostate cancer cases.
Diet and Lifestyle:
It remains unclear how big of an effect diet has on the development of prostate cancer, although a large number of studies have found that diets higher in red meat intake, dairy products and diets high in total fat increase a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer. A study performed in Canada found that a diet high in saturated fat was associated with a “3-fold” risk of death following a prostate cancer diagnosis[i] when compared to a diet low in saturated fat[ii].
Conversely, diets consisting of fiber-rich foods, lycopene (found in tomatoes), and cruciferous vegetables have been shown to be associated with a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. It is important to note that lycopene is more easily digested after cooking, so look for recipes with cooked tomatoes like homemade marinara sauce, tomato soup, and ratatouli. Fish and intake of foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, have been linked to a decreased risk of death and recurrence of prostate cancer[i]. A recent article published in the Chicago Tribune states “men with early stage prostate cancer may live longer if they eat a diet rich in heart-healthy nuts, vegetable oils, seeds, and avocadoes”[iii]. It is because the heart-healthy fats found in nuts and vegetable oils increase antioxidants, which act to protect against cell damage and inflammation[iii].
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following to maintain a healthy diet for those affected by prostate cancer:
- Eating a very high amount of fruits and vegetables per day, 5-9 servings is ideal and focus on foods darker in pigment, as those tend to be higher in antioxidants.
- Specifically cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, as they have been found to have cancer-fighting properties.
- Increasing intake of omega 3, our recommendations can be found here. However, we feel it’s important to mention that a recent study found a possible link to an increased cancer risk and the digestion of omega 3s. However, the study did not question where the omega 3s came from. Therefore, it remains unclear whether it is omega 3s from food or the omega 3s from supplements increase prostate cancer risk in men. All in all, we recommend eating natural sources of omega 3s in moderation, like eating fish and a handful of nuts a few times per week[iv].
- Similar to omega 3 supplementation, medical professionals advise patients to avoid using supplements, unless authorized by their doctors. In 2012 it was found that vitamin E supplementation could actually be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
- Although this has yet to be definitively proven in studies, many believe that drinking 2-3 cups of green tea could help fight off cancer cells. While there is little evidence to this, we don’t think it would hurt swapping your second cup of coffee with a nice cup of green tea.
- Exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of prostate cancer reoccurrence. It is recommended that men get an average of 30 minutes of exercise about 5 days per week.
What activities do you do with your family to keep healthy and active? What are your favorite recipes with lycopene, cruciferous veggies, and omegas? We especially love this Tomato Soup recipe from Cooking Light!
For more resources and information on prostate cancer, we recommend the following websites:
[i] Epstein, Mara M., Julie L. Kasperzyk, Lorelei A. Mucci, Edward Giovannucci, Alkes Price, Alicja Wolk, Niclas Hakansson, Katja Fall, Swen-Olof Andersson, and Ove Andren. “Dietary Fatty Acid Intake and Prostate Cancer Survival in Örebro County, Sweden.” American Journal of Epidemiology. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 10 July 2012. Web.
[ii] Berkow, Susan E., Neal D. Barnard, Gordon A. Saxe, and Trulie Ankerberg-Nobis. “Diet and Survival After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis.” Nutrition Reviews 65.9 (2007): 391-403.
[iii] Cortez, Michelle F. “Healthy Fats May Prolong Lives of Those with Prostate Cancer.”Chicago Tribune: Health. Chicago Tribune Company, LLC, 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2013.
[iv] Brasky, T. M. et al. Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT trial. J. Natl Cancer Inst. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djt174.