Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer for men and according to the American Cancer Society, “About 268,490 new cases of prostate cancer and 34,500 deaths from prostate cancer,” are estimated for this year.
While nobody wants a cancer diagnosis, the good news is prostate cancer is very treatable, especially when caught early and there are ways to help lower the risk.
Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share how to help prevent prostate cancer and signs to look out for.
Who is at Risk for Prostate Cancer
The American Cancer Society states, “About 1 man in 8 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men and in non-Hispanic Black men.
About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40. The average age of men at diagnosis is about 66.”
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages. Prostate cancer that’s more advanced may cause signs and symptoms such as:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in the semen
- Bone pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Erectile dysfunction
How to Help Lower the Risk of Prostate Cancer
Dr. Jonathan Stegall, MD, Integrative Oncologist, Medical Director for The Center for Advanced Medicine and bestselling author of Cancer Secrets gives us the following tips:
-Control your weight. Being obese increases the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
-Eat a healthy diet, consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables, Of note, healthy omega-3s found in nuts, seeds, and fish have been shown to play a role in preventing prostate cancer.
-Reduce oxidative stress, a hallmark of aging. One theory is that the increased incidence of prostate cancer we see with aging is a result of oxidative stress on cells.
This can be thought of as increased irritation on cells, and can result from a wide variety of exposures including processed foods, sugary drinks, and occupational/environmental exposures.
Annual Screenings Work
Dr. Stegall says, “Prostate cancer detected early, when it is still confined to the prostate, is easily treated with excellent outcomes. Thus, routine screening is imperative.
I believe men should start having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level checked yearly starting by age 40.
It is important to keep in mind that PSA can increase due to non-cancerous reasons as well, but PSA provides a good starting point and is easily measured on routine blood work.”
Diet for Prostate Cancer Prevention
Adam Ramin, MD, urologic surgeon and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles tells us, “In general, what we eat affects every part of our bodies, and the prostate is no exception.
Numerous studies indicate that there are some foods, consumed frequently, that can be detrimental to or may increase a man’s prostate cancer risk.
Some of these foods include red meat, alcohol, dairy products, and foods that have a high amount of saturated fats.
Red meat, specifically hot dogs, beef, pork, and sausage contains a chemical compound known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
These chemicals develop during the red meat cooking process. Researchers suggest that it is these HCAs that are responsible for an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Though these types of meat are often a primary source of protein, which is a necessary fuel for the body, there are alternatives.
Consider fish, white meats like turkey, chicken, and other poultry, as well as non-meat sources like tofu and beans. Although many of today’s dairy products are the go-to source of calcium for lots of people, large amounts of dairy should not be consumed regularly.
The reason is that many dairy products have very high-fat content – which studies have shown to be associated with the progression of prostate cancer cells and lethality from the disease.
A good goal is to keep daily intake of whole milk products, fatty cheeses, yogurt, butter, and ice cream to a minimum and eat them in small portions.
As an alternative, switch to non-dairy products like soy, oat or almond milk, fat-free yogurts, and low-fat ice creams. There are a variety of non-dairy options at most grocery chains today.
Now that we’ve outlined which foods may increase the risk of prostate cancer, let’s explore those that may reduce the risk. By incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our diets, the risk of developing prostate cancer may be significantly reduced.
And there are certain foods to consume that may accomplish this better than others. These include tomatoes, various berries, nuts, coffee (in moderation), and carrots.
But truthfully, diets that are rich in whole foods (foods that have not been overly processed or altered beyond their natural state with manufactured ingredients or preservatives), like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, may help to slow the progression or even possibly prevent prostate and other types of cancer.
Proper nutrition can also help ward off the recurrence of disease while boosting the immune system. The key is knowing the right food ratios to consume, which foods to avoid, and which are suitable in moderation.
Following a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent a variety of health issues, including cancer.
If you’re looking at this from a meal-by-meal perspective, it means that any given plate of food is going to contain mostly veggies and fruits, and a small helping of lean protein (avoiding red meat when possible)
Dessert should be an on-occasion treat (preferably not daily) and tend toward a less sugary and fatty option, like sugar-free almond yogurt topped with fruit and a small drizzle of honey.
As beneficial as a healthy diet is, it cannot replace routine health checkups or screenings for prostate cancer. If you’ve been putting off that annual physical, make the appointment. You’ll be glad you did.