Prostate Cancer: News and Recommendations

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.

photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic
photo courtesy of Cleveland Clinic

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].

 Ripe Tomatoes

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].

Recommendations:

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.

Is Vitamin Water the New Soda?

Is Vitamin Water the New Soda?

By Katherine Kaczor, Nutrition Assistant

We all know that sodas and other sugar beverages are not ideal for our health and should be consumed in moderation. As an alternative to these drinks, many Americans are now turning to vitamin-fortified waters as their beverage of choice.

These beverages, at first glance, appear to be wonder drinks. Water is key for survival and we need vitamins to help our bodies run efficiently; coming the two seems to be an ingenious way to get both needs at once.

But are these beverages really as good as they appear?

Most vitamin-fortified beverages such as Vitamin Water, Propel, and LifeWater as well as the new vitamin gums and lip balm are largely fortified with water-soluble vitamins. These include the B-complex vitamins and Vitamin C. While these vitamins are vital for several metabolic processes needed for growth, development, and immunity, most Americans are not deficient in these vitamins. Water soluble vitamins taken in excess are typically excreted through the urine. The human body is not capable of storing any excess amounts of these vitamins so supplementing the diet with one of these fortified beverages is not beneficial for most healthy individuals.

Fat soluble vitamins, Vitamins A, D, E, and K, on the other hand, can be stored for longer periods of time in the body. However, most Americans are not deficient in these vitamins either. Recent research has shown that only Vitamin E has been of concern in the average American. Very few vitamin-fortified waters supplement with Vitamin E, however. Additionally, fat soluble vitamins, as their name suggests, need a fat source to be absorbed and utilized in the body. This means that merely drinking them in a fat-free beverage such as a vitamin-fortified water, will be of little use in the body because the fat needed to use the vitamins is missing. One could potentially drink their vitamin-fortified beverage with a meal and the fat soluble vitamins could then be absorbed, but it would be likely that the meal would have a better supply of the nutrients than the vitamin beverage.

Additionally, the vitamin content of vitamin-fortified beverages, gums, and lip balm is typically not high enough to be a replacement for a standard vitamin supplement such as Centrum or One a Day. For the majority of these products, the vitamin content is around 10% of the RDA. If you have been placed on a vitamin-regimen by your physician, switching to vitamin-fortified water will not be an adequate replacement.

You also need to look at the other ingredients and nutritional content of these products. Many supply over 150 calories per bottle and are packed with sugar. You could easily just have a well-balanced snack for similar calories and have a better absorbance of nutrients and feel more satisfied. Lower-calorie or calorie-free products are now available as well they are filled with artificial ingredients and the vitamins in the product are not used well without an energy source.

That being said, most people would not benefit from using these products. Most Americans do not experience significant vitamin deficiencies if they are consuming a well-rounded diet. If some deficiencies exist many of the vitamins from these fortified products are not well-absorbed nor are they a good substitute for a traditional vitamin supplement. If you really enjoy the taste of vitamin-fortified beverages, there is little harm in having them on occasion (except for their outrageous price!) and they are a better alternative to sodas and will help hydrate you, but don’t expect to reap any health benefits from starting a vitamin-water regimen.

So, get your vitamins from food. Consume a balanced intake of whole grains, lean meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables and drink your water plain. If you dislike the taste of water, try adding a lemon or lime to bring out a new flavor.

References:

http://scienceline.org/2007/12/ask-intagliata-vitaminwater/

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=126087&page=1