Ten Strategies for Preventing Prostate Cancer
1) Eat your G-BOMBS.
G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds) have powerful anti-cancer effects. For example, cruciferous vegetables (greens like broccoli, kale, bok choy, arugula, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, plus cauliflower, radish and more ) contain phytochemicals that stimulate the body to detoxify carcinogens, and higher cruciferous vegetable intake is associated with lower prostate cancer risk.1 Men who consumed three or more half-cup servings of cruciferous vegetables per week were 41 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.2 Also, the onion family vegetables (onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives) contain organosulfur compounds with anti-cancer effects, and are associated with reduced prostate cancer risk.3,4
2) Reduce consumption of meat, eggs and dairy.
It is widely recognized that a high consumption of animal protein has been linked to a greater risk of prostate cancer.5 Greater consumption of meat, poultry and fish is associated with higher blood level of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1), which is positively correlated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.6 Similarly, greater intake of choline (found in meat, dairy and eggs) is associated with increased prostate cancer risk. Eggs are the richest source of choline, and a large study of men found that those who ate 2.5 or more eggs per week had an 81% increase in risk of lethal prostate cancer compared to those who ate less than half an egg per week.7 There is substantial evidence indicating that men who avoid dairy products are at a lower risk for prostate cancer.8-10 One study that spanned 41 countries reported a strong correlation between per capita milk consumption and prostate cancer deaths.12 For prostate health, avoid or limit animal products to two or fewer servings per week. Plant protein, however is protective—legumes and minimally processed soy products, are associated with decreased risk of prostate cancer.13,14
3) Eat lots of tomatoes, especially cooked.
A review of several studies revealed that those who consumed the most tomato-based foods reduced their total risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent and their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 50 percent.15 Lycopene, which is abundant especially in cooked tomatoes is believed to be primarily responsible for this benefit.16 The lycopene in cooked tomatoes is more bioavailable than in raw tomatoes.11 Tomatoes are extremely nutrient-dense, containing lycopene as well as a variety of other protective phytochemicals, such as flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins.
4) Eat plenty of yellow and orange vegetables.
Consumption of carotenoid-rich yellow and orange vegetables including carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash and corn was also found to be inversely related to prostate cancer.13,17
5) Confirm adequate vitamin D levels with a blood test.
Accumulating research shows that insufficient vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of several cancers, including prostate cancer.18-20 While sun exposure is one of the best sources of vitamin D, it is unlikely to get adequate vitamin D from sun exposure throughout life without increasing the risk of skin cancer. The safest way to obtain vitamin D is through supplements. Aim for a vitamin D blood level (25(OH)D) between 30 and 45 ng/ml.
6) Do not rely on PSA screening as a method of “early detection” to prevent prostate cancer.
About 70% of men with elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) do not actually have cancer, and many scientists think that PSA screening does not reduce prostate cancer-related deaths.21,22 In fact, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American College of Preventive Medicine and the American Cancer Society do not recommend routine PSA screening.23
7) Avoid supplemental folic acid.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate (one of the B vitamins), and is included in most multivitamins. Similar to breast cancer, folic acid supplementation has been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, whereas food folate is associated with decreased risk.24 Get natural folate from green vegetables and beans instead of synthetic folic acid from supplements.
8) Avoid fried foods.
Potential dietary carcinogens form in foods when high heat cooking methods, such as frying or grilling, are used. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed in meats, aldehydes are produced in oils and acrylamide is formed in starchy foods and coatings. One study evaluated frequent (once a week or more) consumption of certain fried foods in relation to prostate cancer risk; French fries, fried chicken, fried fish and doughnuts were associated with increased risk.25
9) Exercise at least 3 hours a week.
Exercise, particularly endurance-type exercise such as walking, running, cycling and swimming, are effective forms of disease protection. In one study, men who reported vigorous activity for at least three hours per week had a 61% lower risk of death from prostate cancer, suggesting that not only does exercise help to prevent prostate cancer, but it may also slow its progression.26,27
10) Supplement with a conservative amount of zinc.
Zinc has been shown in scientific studies to suppress tumor growth and induce prostate cancer cell death.28 There is evidence that adequate levels of zinc are protective, while deficiency and excess may promote prostate cancer.29 Zinc may be especially important for those who follow healthful plant-based diets: in one study, zinc supplementation alone was not associated with prostate cancer risk; however, among men with a high vegetable intake, the men who supplemented with at least 15 mg/day of zinc had a 57 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to those that did not take zinc.30 Since zinc from plant foods is not always efficiently absorbed by the body.31 I recommend supplementing with a multivitamin and mineral supplement with about 15 mg of zinc (that does NOT contain folic acid).
1. Liu B, Mao Q, Cao M, et al: Cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis. Int J Urol 2012;19:134-141.
2. Kirsh VA, Peters U, Mayne ST, et al: Prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and risk of prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2007;99:1200-1209.
3. Galeone C, Pelucchi C, Levi F, et al: Onion and garlic use and human cancer. The American journal of clinical nutrition 2006;84:1027-1032.
4. Hsing AW, Chokkalingam AP, Gao YT, et al: Allium vegetables and risk of prostate cancer: a population-based study. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002;94:1648-1651.
5. Wolk A: Diet, lifestyle and risk of prostate cancer. Acta Oncol 2005;44:277-281.
6. Key TJ: Diet, insulin-like growth factor-1 and cancer risk. Proc Nutr Soc 2011:1-4.
7. Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, et al: Choline intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer: incidence and survival. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:855-863.
8. Song Y, Chavarro JE, Cao Y, et al: Whole milk intake is associated with prostate cancer-specific mortality among U.S. male physicians. J Nutr 2013;143:189-196.
9. Melnik BC, John SM, Carrera-Bastos P, et al: The impact of cow's milk-mediated mTORC1-signaling in the initiation and progression of prostate cancer. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2012;9:74.
10. Raimondi S, Mabrouk JB, Shatenstein B, et al: Diet and prostate cancer risk with specific focus on dairy products and dietary calcium: a case-control study. Prostate 2010;70:1054-1065.
11. van het Hof KH, de Boer BC, Tijburg LB, et al: Carotenoid bioavailability in humans from tomatoes processed in different ways determined from the carotenoid response in the triglyceride-rich lipoprotein fraction of plasma after a single consumption and in plasma after four days of consumption. J Nutr 2000;130:1189-1196.
12. Grant WB: An ecologic study of dietary links to prostate cancer. Altern Med Rev 1999;4:162-169.
13. Kolonel LN, Hankin JH, Whittemore AS, et al: Vegetables, fruits, legumes and prostate cancer: a multiethnic case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2000;9:795-804.
14. Hwang YW, Kim SY, Jee SH, et al: Soy food consumption and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutr Cancer 2009;61:598-606.
15. Giovannucci E: A review of epidemiologic studies of tomatoes, lycopene, and prostate cancer. Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2002;227:852-859.
16. Vanbreemen R, Pajkovic N: Multitargeted therapy of cancer by lycopene. Cancer Lett 2008;269:339-351.
17. Vance TM, Su J, Fontham ET, et al: Dietary antioxidants and prostate cancer: a review. Nutr Cancer 2013;65:793-801.
18. Holick MF, Chen TC: Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:1080S-1086S.
19. Swami S, Krishnan AV, Feldman D: Vitamin D metabolism and action in the prostate: implications for health and disease. Mol Cell Endocrinol 2011;347:61-69.
20. Schwartz GG: Vitamin d in blood and risk of prostate cancer: lessons from the selenium and vitamin e cancer prevention trial and the prostate cancer prevention trial. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2014;23:1447-1449.
21. Esserman L, Shieh Y, Thompson I: Rethinking Screening for Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 2009;302:1685-1692.
22. Andriole GL, Crawford ED, Grubb RL, 3rd, et al: Prostate Cancer Screening in the Randomized Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial: Mortality Results after 13 Years of Follow-up. J Natl Cancer Inst 2012;104:125-132.
23. Ablin RJ: The Great Prostate Mistake. In New York Times, New York edition. pp. 27; 2010:27.
24. Figueiredo JC, Grau MV, Haile RW, et al: Folic acid and risk of prostate cancer: results from a randomized clinical trial. J Natl Cancer Inst 2009;101:432-435.
25. Stott-Miller M, Neuhouser ML, Stanford JL: Consumption of deep-fried foods and risk of prostate cancer. Prostate 2013.
26. Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, et al: Physical Activity and Survival After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. J Clin Oncol 2011.
27. Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Platz EA, et al: Risk factors for prostate cancer incidence and progression in the health professionals follow-up study. Int J Cancer 2007;121:1571-1578.
28. Franklin RB, Costello LC: Zinc as an anti-tumor agent in prostate cancer and in other cancers. Arch Biochem Biophys 2007;463:211-217.
29. Prasad AS, Mukhtar H, Beck FW, et al: Dietary zinc and prostate cancer in the TRAMP mouse model. J Med Food 2010;13:70-76.
30. Gonzalez A, Peters U, Lampe JW, et al: Zinc intake from supplements and diet and prostate cancer. Nutr Cancer 2009;61:206-215.
31. de Bortoli MC, Cozzolino SM: Zinc and selenium nutritional status in vegetarians. Biol Trace Elem Res 2009;127:228-233.