Diet has been studied extensively for its preventive and protective roles in cancer. Some foods and nutrients have been found to play a role in the prevention of prostate cancer and its recurrence. Below are some examples of recommendations for dietary habits that may be protective against prostate cancer:
Diet should be low in saturated fats from dairy products and red meat, for example, but include healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids from nuts, seeds and fish such as salmon and mackerel.
Processed foods such as refined grains, refined flours and refined sugars should be avoided as much as possible.
A diet that is predominantly based on red and processed meat may increase the risk of advanced and aggressive cancer.
Diet should be supplemented with plenty of fluid. Among its many functions, water carries nutrients and waste substances and is involved in important chemical reactions as well as maintaining a healthy blood volume.
Diet should include plant foods such as fruits and vegetables and high fibre foods such as wholegrains and beans/legumes. Plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels by up to 4%. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants such as the carotenoids, flavonoids and resveratrol. Examples of carotenoids include beta-carotene found in carrots and dark-leaved green vegetables such as spinach; foods rich in flavonoids include raspberries, blueberries and blackberries and good sources of resveratrol are grapes, cranberries and peanuts.
The risk of prostate cancer is reduced in men who consume at least 28 portions of vegetables each week compared with those who consume 14 portions or less per week.
Other examples of food that may offer protection against prostate cancer are those rich in polyphenol antioxidants such as green tea, flax seeds and Brazil nuts.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower also reduce the risk of prostate cancer. One study showed that men who eat three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week have a 41% reduced risk of prostate cancer compared with those consuming less than one portion per week.
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes, apricot and watermelon that is protective against DNA damage and cancer.
Pomegranate also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, offering protection against cancer.
Vitamins that may confer protection against prostate cancer include vitamins C, A, D and E.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc