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Dietary Approaches for the Prevention and Treatment of Prostate Cancer

December 2018

By Michael Downey

The prostate gland of aging men often harbors isolated colonies of cancer cells.

Natural defense systems can prevent these malignant cells from progressing to clinically relevant disease.

Unhealthy foods can fuel existing prostate cancer cells, allowing them to proliferate and spread to other body parts.

In this article, we provide guidelines for what to eat and what to avoid.

These dietary guidelines are applicable to men seeking to reduce their prostate cancer risk.

They also reveal startling data showing the deadly impact of certain foods in those who harbor prostate cancer cells, which is the majority of men over age 65.1

Foods That Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer affects one in six men.2 Men who regularly consume certain foods have sharply lower rates of prostate cancer. By boosting intake of these beneficial foods, men can reduce their prostate cancer risk.

Walnuts

walnuts help prevent prostate cancer  

Walnuts are low in carbohydrates and rich in beneficial fatty acids, polyphenols, and gamma tocopherol. This may explain why research has shown that walnuts have the potential to inhibit prostate cancer cells, lower PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels, and reduce the size of prostate tumors.3-5

In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, whole walnuts or walnut oil slowed the growth of prostate cancer in mice. The same study found that walnuts lowered levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), a hormone that has been associated with prostate cancer.5

In human research, walnuts were shown to improve biomarkers related to prostate and vascular health in older men.6

Flaxseeds

flaxseeds help prevent prostate cancer  

The lignans in flaxseeds are believed to protect against cancer, including hormone-dependent malignancies.7-9

These lignans are converted in the intestine into beneficial enterolactones, which then enter the bloodstream. Men with higher enterolactone levels are less likely to have prostate cancer than those with the lowest levels.10

Studies have confirmed that flaxseed supplementation lowers PSA levels and reduces the proliferation of prostate cancer cells.7,11 And in a clinical study of men with prostate cancer, supplementation with flaxseed reduced tumor proliferation in as little as 30 days.11

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables help prevent prostate cancer  

When researchers conducted a review of the effects of cruciferous vegetables on prostate cancer, they concluded that “Cruciferous vegetable intake is related to the decreased risk of prostate cancer.”12 (Examples of cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.)

A later study found that—among the various vegetables—broccoli and other cruciferous species are most closely associated with reduced cancer risk, including prostate cancer. This is thought to be due to their abundance of compounds known as glucosinolates and their breakdown products, such as isothiocyanates.13

Cruciferous vegetables also contain several potent compounds that have individually shown promise in inhibiting prostate cancer cells.14-18 These include indole-3-carbinol, 3,3’-diindolylmethane, and phenethyl isothiocyanate, better known as I3C, DIM, and PEITC, respectively.

What You Need to Know
Cold-Water Fish help prevent prostate cancer

The Anti-Prostate-Cancer Diet

  • The body contains protective barriers that help prevent prostate cancer cells from developing into a full-blown tumor.
  • Eating the wrong foods provides fuel for existing prostate cancer cells to evade the body’s natural anti-cancer barriers, allowing these cells to grow and spread.
  • By avoiding cancer-promoting foods—and consuming foods specifically shown to help prevent cancer—aging men can help prevent prostate cancer.

Cold-Water Fish

Higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to correspond to a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.19

These omega-3 fatty acids include DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and are found in cold-water fish such as tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, halibut, and salmon.20

EPA suppresses the formation of an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid by inhibiting the enzyme delta-5-desaturase.21 It also inhibits a substance (called uPA) believed to play a role in the spread of prostate cancer.22

Cooked Tomatoes and Tomato Sauces

Cooked Tomatoes and Tomato Sauces help prevent prostate cancer  

A 2018 meta-analysis concluded that consuming tomatoes, cooked tomatoes, and tomato sauces was associated with reduced prostate cancer risk. The greater the tomato consumption, the greater the risk reduction.23

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, the carotenoid pigment that gives them their bright red color, which is known to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.24

Higher blood lycopene levels have been consistently tied to reduced prostate cancer risk.25 And above-average lycopene consumption has been associated with a 59% reduction in the risk of dying from aggressive prostate cancers.26

Lycopene has several anti-cancer mechanisms, including inhibiting inflammation and reducing oxidative stress in prostate tissue.27

Lycopene is better absorbed from tomatoes when cooked and when consumed with fat, such as extra virgin olive oil.28

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate Juice helps prevent prostate cancer  

Consuming pomegranate juice has protective actions against prostate cancer, including inhibiting tumor cell proliferation, cell cycle, invasiveness, and angiogenesis.29,30

In one study, pomegranate juice (8 oz. daily) treatment in men with rising PSA after surgery or radiotherapy resulted in a delay in PSA doubling time (the time it takes PSA levels to rise).30

A review study found that three components of pomegranate juice, luteolin, ellagic acid, and punicic acid, exhibit inhibitory effects on prostate cancer growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis.31

Coffee

coffee helps prevent prostate cancer  

A meta-analysis involving 455,123 subjects found that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily was associated with a reduced risk of overall prostate cancer and specifically fatal and high-grade prostate cancer.32

Another study found that men who drink over six cups of coffee daily, including decaffeinated coffee, have an 18% lower risk of prostate cancer and a 60% lower risk of lethal prostate cancer, compared to non-drinkers.33

Beneficial Dietary Factors

The following broad food choices have been shown to inhibit prostate cancer:

  • The Mediterranean diet,34-36
  • High fiber intake,37 and
  • Eating foods with a low glycemic index.38

Foods That Promote Prostate Cancer

According to a 2018 study, following a typical Western diet boosts the risk of prostate cancer by 22%.39 Men with rising or elevated PSA levels should be especially diligent in avoiding these foods.

Eggs

eggs promote prostate cancer  

Studies show that consuming eggs is associated with increased prostate cancer risk.40,41

One study found that men who consumed 2.5 or more eggs per week had a startling 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer compared to those who consumed less than half an egg per week.40

Researchers who studied men treated with radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer reported that those in the top 10% of egg consumption had almost double the chances of developing high-grade prostate disease, compared to men in the bottom quartile.42

Milk

milk promotes prostate cancer  

Consuming low-fat milk and cheese increases the risk of prostate cancer by 6% and 9%, respectively. Similar risks accrue from high intakes of total milk and dietary calcium (but not from calcium supplements).43

One study found that consuming skim or low-fat milk was associated with increased risk of low-grade prostate cancer, while whole milk was associated with greater risk of fatal prostate cancer. And in men already diagnosed with prostate cancer, consuming whole milk was associated with a 117% increased risk of progression to fatal disease.44

This last finding illustrates the critical role of limiting milk consumption after prostate cancer has been diagnosed, as the next three studies45-47 further drive home.

In men already diagnosed with prostate cancer, researchers reported that patients who drank the most whole milk had a 74% increased odds of highly aggressive prostate cancer, compared to non-drinkers.45

And in a study of men with non-metastatic prostate cancer, those who consumed over four servings of high-fat milk weekly showed a 73% greater recurrence risk (defined as prostate cancer death, bone metastases, biochemical recurrence, or secondary treatment).46

This increased risk was associated with just four servings of high-fat milk per week. Compare that to a study on prostate cancer patients who drank three or more servings of high-fat milk per day. These patients had a jarring 510% greater risk of dying from their prostate cancer compared to men consuming less than one daily serving.47

Processed and Overcooked Meat

Processed and Overcooked Meat prommotes prostate cancer  

All meat cooked at high temperatures, including fish, generates dangerous carcinogens.48 Men with a high intake of red meat cooked at high temperatures, pan fried, or well done had a higher risk of advanced prostate cancer.49

For example, one study showed that consuming ground beef is associated with a 130% higher incidence of aggressive prostate cancer. The more well-done the meat, the greater the risk.50

A separate study showed that higher consumption of hamburgers, processed meats, grilled red meat, and well-done red meat increased risk of advanced prostate cancer (but not localized disease).51

This study corroborated others associating processed meat and red meat—especially when cooked at high temperatures, with increased incidence of advanced prostate cancer.49

High-Risk Dietary Factors

Studies indicate that diets high in omega-6 fats and saturated fats are associated with significantly greater prostate cancer risk.52-54

Summary

Eating the wrong foods markedly increases an aging man’s risk of developing prostate cancer  

Eating the wrong foods markedly increases an aging man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, seeing it spread, or dying from the disease. Conversely, many specific foods have been shown to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Following the dietary guidelines outlined in this article could save countless men’s lives every year.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

A to Z Supplement Guide for Prostate Cancer Prevention
Dietary changes can help aging men avoid prostate cancer

Dietary changes can help aging men avoid the biological effects that allow prostate cancer to take hold. For those who want additional protection, the following is the full range of supplements that can prevent and attenuate prostate cancer.

Apigenin

In a mouse study, administering the powerful plant flavonoid apigenin inhibited the volume of prostate cancer cells by as much as 59%.55

Beta-Sitosterol

A study on prostate cancer cells showed that the phytosterol known as beta-sitosterol decreased cancer cell growth by 24% and increased apoptosis four-fold.56

Boron

Men with the highest boron intake have lower chances of prostate cancer, compared to men with the lowest intake.57

Boswellia

The purified extract of the flowering plant genus Boswellia can selectively inhibit inflammatory factors (the 5-LOX enzyme and TNF-alpha),58-62 which makes it an important nutrient in preventing prostate cancer.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth by 70% in vitro,63 which suggests that it may boost survival in patients with prostate cancer.

Cruciferous Vegetable Extract

Phytochemicals derived from cruciferous vegetables have shown promise in inhibiting prostate cancer in experimental models.14,15

Curcumin

Curcumin induces apoptosis, interferes with the spread of cancer cells, and regulates inflammatory responses through the master regulator nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappa B), a protein complex that controls the transcription of DNA.64-67

Delphinidins

Delphinidin is an anthocyanidin (a plant pigment that gives fruits and vegetables their deep red, purple, and blue colors). Data show that delphinidins induce apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells, possibly by inhibiting the master regulator NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa B).68

Fish Oil

The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fish oil supplements can help reduce the production of arachidonic acid-derived tumor-promoting byproducts in the body,69,70 which in turn may help prevent prostate cancer.

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

GLA inhibits the production of a substance (uPA) believed to play a role in the invasiveness and spread of prostate cancer cells.22

Gamma-Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Men with the highest gamma-tocopherol levels were found to have a five-fold reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer.71

Ginger Extract

Ginger phytochemicals inhibit the proliferation of human prostate cancer cells.72

Grapeseed

A study found that men who supplemented with any amount of grapeseed extract reduced their prostate cancer risk by 41% compared to men who didn’t take the supplements. And men who consumed high amounts of grapeseed over 10 years experienced a 62% reduction in prostate cancer risk.73

Green Tea Extract

Laboratory research with cultures has long suggested that green tea catechins, including epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial tested whether men with pre-malignant prostate lesions who consumed a green tea catechin supplement would progress to full-blown cancer. After one year, only 3% of men in the green tea group progressed to cancer, while 30% did so in the placebo group—ten times as many!74

Inositol Hexaphosphate (IP6)

Inositol hexaphosphate or IP6—a phytochemical found in cereals, soy, legumes, and other fiber-rich foods—profoundly reduced the size of prostate tumors in mice genetically modified to develop metastatic prostate cancer.75

Lycopene

Clinical research shows that lycopene supplements may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.76

Melatonin

Melatonin has been found to have anti-proliferative actions against prostate cancer cells.77,78

Milk Thistle

In animal research, the silibinin in milk thistle was found to exert cancer-fighting effects against an advanced form of human prostate tumor cells.79,80

Modified Citrus Pectin

When prostate cancer patients took a modified citrus pectin preparation for 12 months, 70% experienced an increase in PSA doubling time—an indication of slower disease progression.81

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

Lab research demonstrated that NAC—a metabolite of the amino acid cysteine—has a high potential to reduce the spread of human prostate cancer cells and to suppress the growth of primary and secondary tumors.82

Pomegranate Extract

In an in vitro study, scientists found that a standardized extract of pomegranate had dose-dependent apoptotic (inducing cell death) effects against prostate cancer cells.83

Quercetin

Quercetin produces a 69% reduction in the growth of highly aggressive prostate cancer cells, more than a 50% upregulation of tumor-suppressor genes, and a 61%-100% downregulation of cancer-promoting oncogenes.84

Reishi Extract

In studies on prostate cancer cells, this mushroom extract was shown to greatly interfere with androgen receptor function and prostate cancer cell development.85

Resveratrol

In one study, four days of resveratrol treatment resulted in an 80% reduction in PSA levels in prostate cancer cells.86

Saw Palmetto

Emerging evidence suggests that saw palmetto has biological activity in prostate cancer cells and may defend against prostate cancer.87

Selenium

Supplementation with selenium reduces the risk of prostate cancer by up to 63%.88,89

Soy Isoflavones

The prostate cancer risk in men with the highest circulating levels of the soy isoflavones genistein and daidzein is reduced.90

Vitamin C

An in vitro study on human prostate cancer cells found that vitamin C inhibits cell division and growth (through the production of hydrogen peroxide, which damages the cancer cells). The study author concluded that ascorbic acid is likely a potent anti-cancer agent for prostate cancer cells.91

Vitamin D

Higher vitamin D levels are associated with a greater likelihood of survival after prostate cancer diagnosis.92

Vitamin K

In one study, men with the highest intake of vitamin K2 were 63% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer.93

Watercress Extract

Watercress contains high amounts of a compound called phenethyl isothiocyanate that inhibits the proliferation of prostate cancer cells and their ability to form tumors.94

Zeaxanthin

Men in the highest quartile of plasma zeaxanthin had a reduced chance of developing prostate cancer, compared to those in the lowest quartile.95

Zinc

Supplementation with 15 mg of zinc daily reduces the risk of advanced prostate cancer.96

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