Nutrition’s Role in Prostate Cancer

Eating healthy and smart can help reduce your risk for prostate cancer.

Easy access to food coupled with a more sedentary society has caused a spike in many health conditions, including prostate cancer. There are a multitude of factors in play when it comes to the risk of prostate cancer. Although there is no one known specific cause for prostate cancer—dietary or otherwise—there are areas correlated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, especially a man’s diet. Nutritional habits, combined with a patient’s lifestyle, genetics, and environment, can indicate a man’s likelihood of developing prostate cancer in his lifetime.

Unlike many influences of prostate cancer like genetics, nutrition can be easily altered and controlled, making it an important consideration in men’s health. Statistically men in Western countries, particularly the United States, are six times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those in non-Western countries in part due to nutritional choices. These eating practices point to improper food preparation and unhealthy dietary choices in the rise of prostate cancer.

In a previous article, we discussed how the preparation of foods, namely meats, can increase a man’s intake of carcinogens, which are directly related to the overall risk of prostate cancer. Men will come into contact with carcinogens in everyday life; however, the negative effect of carcinogens can be slowed and counteracted by a healthy diet. Men should consider steaming or baking meats. In addition, marinating meats prior to cooking and vigilance while cooking by consistently turning meats can reduce the likelihood of producing carcinogens. This can help eliminate the consumption of overcooked meats, thereby reducing carcinogens. Furthermore, consuming more cruciferous vegetables—such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts and other green leafy vegetables—can offset those everyday carcinogens we come into contact with.

Although preparation can play a large role in unsound dietary practices, food choices can be even more important. As high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), found in soft drinks and processed foods, becomes more prevalent, men are unintentionally fueling their own cancer. Because cancerous cells growing quickly, they need to power this growth with something quick and abundant. The body’s fast conversion of sugar and HFCS stimulates cancer growth. As the body continuously converts sugars, it triggers the overproduction of insulin in an attempt to process all of the sugar. High concentrations of insulin increase prostate cancer growth. Reducing and controlling sugar intake can lower insulin levels, lessening prostate cancer growth.

In addition to the nutritional changes above, focusing on supplementing other healthy foods in a man’s diet can play an impactful role in reducing the chance of prostate cancer. Foods that are usually lumped together as healthy—ocean-caught fish, whole grains, fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables—all contribute to a strong immune system. Beverages can also have similar results with tomato-based soups and drinks, pomegranate juices, and tea all providing anti-inflammatory effects and other health benefits.

Overall, diet has been proven to be a significant part of preventing and even combating prostate cancer. A healthy regimen not only including eating the right foods, but also controlling the quantity of food as well. In human studies, reducing the number of calories has been shown to negatively impact the growth of tumors. In the end, there is no one proven way to eliminate prostate cancer; however, by managing the quantity and quality of their diet, men have a better opportunity for keeping prostate cancer at bay.

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