The facts of prostate cancer
The prostate, an organ located under the bladder, produces semen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States. The risk of developing prostate cancer progressively increases with age.
Out of every 100 men over the age of 60, six will have prostate cancer before their 70th birthday, according to the CDC.
There’s no absolute prostate cancer prevention, but evidence suggests diet plays a key role. Keep reading for diet tips and more information.
Tomatoes and other red foods
Tomatoes, watermelon, and other red foods owe their bright color to a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. Studies show that men who consume this fruit and tomato-based products have a lower risk of prostate cancer than those who don’t.
Other findings suggest that cooking tomatoes makes it easier for your body to absorb lycopene. The redder the tomato, the better because lycopene accumulates during ripening. That means that pale, store-bought tomatoes that are picked too early have less lycopene than vine-ripened tomatoes.
The power of fruits and veggies
Nutrients and vitamins contained in fruits and vegetables may lower your risk of getting prostate cancer. Green vegetables contain compounds that help your body break down cancer-causing substances called carcinogens. A nutrient-rich diet may also help slow the spread of cancer.
By eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day, you’ll be less likely to fill up on processed junk food.
Feast on fish
Fatty acid, known as omega-3, may help reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. Omega-3 is found in certain fish including sardines, tuna, mackerel, trout, and salmon.
When compared to a high-fat diet, eating a low-fat diet and taking fish oil supplements has been found to slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. It’s easier to treat cancer that hasn’t yet spread outside the prostate.
Soybean and tea
A nutrient called isoflavones has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Isoflavones are found in:
- tofu (made from soybeans)
- alfalfa sprouts
Some studies have shown that men who drink green tea, or take green tea extract supplements, have a lower risk of prostate cancer than those who don’t.
Pour Another Cup of Coffee
Decades of studies suggest that indulging a serious coffee habit is linked to a decreased risk of fatal prostate cancer:
- Drinking four to five cups of coffee every day can lower your chances of fatal and high-grade prostate cancer.
- Regardless of how many cups you drink overall, every three cups of coffee you drink can reduce your risk of fatal prostate cancer about 11 percent.
This describes a dose-response relationship between prostate cancer and coffee. That means the effect on prostate cancer goes up or down with the amount of coffee you drink. These effects may not extend to someone who only grabs an occasional cup.
However, high doses of caffeine can cause major health issues, such as irregular heartbeat and seizures. According to Mayo Clinic, the daily recommended amount of caffeine for most healthy adults is 400 milligrams — or about 1 1/2 cups.
How coffee is prepared can also be a factor. A study in Norway looked at coffee brewed with a filter, and boiled coffee, which doesn’t use such a filter. Men who drank boiled coffee seemed to have a lower risk of prostate cancer than men who drank coffee prepared another way or not at all.
The chemicals cafestol and kahweol have well-known cancer-fighting abilities. Researchers believe these chemicals are trapped when coffee runs through a paper filter. Boiled coffee may allow these cancer-fighting chemicals to stay in your daily brew.
The role of fat
Studies indicate a link between animal fats and an increased risk of prostate cancer. In addition to meat, animal fats are found in lard, butter, and cheese. Whenever possible, replace animal-based fats with plant-based fats.
This, instead of that:
- olive oil instead of butter
- fruit instead of candy
- fresh vegetables instead of prepackaged foods
- nuts or seeds instead of cheese
Also, overcooking meat produces carcinogens, so be careful not to over-cook your meat.
Prostate cancer patients who smoke are more likely to have a recurrence of the disease. Smokers are also more likely to have an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
It's not too late to quit. When compared with current smokers, prostate cancer patients who quit smoking for more than 10 years had the same mortality risk as those who never smoked.
Some studies suggest that low folate levels in your blood increase your risk for cancer. Folate is found in a variety of foods, including green vegetables, beans, and orange juice. Increasing your intake of these foods may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, supplementing with folic acid, a man-made form of folate, may increase the risk of cancer.
Some studies have linked dairy products, or diets high in calcium, with an increased risk of prostate cancer, but this risk is considered minimal.
The importance of exercise
Too much fat, especially in the middle of your body, is linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. Benefits of exercise include increased muscle mass and better metabolism. Try:
Exercise doesn't have to be boring. Vary your routine and invite your friends to participate. You're more likely to workout if it's fun.
Talk to your doctor
Ask your doctor about your risk for developing prostate cancer. Some points to discuss include:
- what medical screening tests you should have as you age
- family history of cancer
- dietary recommendations
Tell your doctor if you’re just beginning a new exercise program, or if you have the following symptoms:
- discomfort anywhere in your pelvic or rectal areas
- difficulty urinating
- blood in your urine or semen