Michael T. Murray, ND
Diet is clearly taking the centre stage as both the major cause and the best way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Diet is clearly taking the centre stage as both the major cause and the best way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, there is so much convincing evidence on the role of diet in prostate cancer that researchers from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center went so far as to suggest that prostate cancer may be a nutritional disease. The best treatment for any cancer is prevention, which involves identifying and avoiding known risk factors, along with incorporating healthy lifestyle and dietary habits associated with reducing risk.
You can’t see it or feel it, but the prostate is an important part of the male urogenital system, playing a role in sexual function and bladder control. About the size of a walnut, though it tends to get larger with age, the prostate is situated just below the bladder, around the urethra. It controls the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra, and during sexual activity produces a white fluid that nourishes and mobilizes sperm.
Key causative dietary factors include diets rich in animal foods, particularly grilled and broiled meats, saturated fat and dairy, as well as diets low in protective nutrients such as lycopene, selenium, vitamin E, soy isoflavonoids and other dietary phytoestrogens, omega-3 fatty acids (particularly from fish), and cabbage-family vegetables such as broccoli and kale. These dietary factors are known to affect sex hormone levels, detoxification mechanisms and antioxidant status. Here are some key findings from scientific studies:
Three Key Nutritional Supplements
In addition to diet and lifestyle, three supplements are essential in a prostate cancer prevention plan:
A high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral provides optimal levels of all essential vitamins and minerals. Such a product will not be a “one-a-day,” as it is physically impossible to get everything into just one pill. A high-potency multi-vitamin will usually require two or three tablets to be taken twice daily.
Greens drinks refer to commercially available products containing dehydrated barley grass, wheatgrass or algae sources such as chorella or spirulina–green super foods that are power-packed full of cancer-fighting phytochemicals, especially carotenes and chlorophyll. These dehydrated products are more convenient than trying to sprout and grow your own source of greens. An added advantage is that they tend to taste better.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids refer to the omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil that play a central role in cell membrane structure and function. Deficiency of these fats is associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer and about 60 other conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, skin diseases and diabetes. Adding a fish oil supplement to your daily routine provides extra insurance that you are getting sufficient levels of these important oils. For prevention, take enough of the product to provide 200 to 400 mg of EPA and 100 to 200 mg of DHA on a daily basis.
Flak about Flax
While the data is clear that increased fish oil consumption offers protection against prostate cancer, there has been some controversy about recommending flax seed oil to men based upon some misunderstanding of research by some experts. First, there have been studies suggesting an association between alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and prostate cancer. But upon closer examination of these studies, there appears to be little basis for this recommendation. Here are the key points:
For more information on what you can do to fight cancer, please consult my book, How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine (Putnam, 2002).
The State of Canadian Prostates
Source: Canadian Cancer Society