Dietary Approaches for the Prevention and Treatment of Prostate CancerDecember 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 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
- Available at: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/prostate-cancer/risk-factors-and-prevention. Accessed September 24, 2018.
- Available at: https://www.webmd.com/men/guide/prostate-problems. Accessed September 10, 2018.
- Reiter RJ, Tan DX, Manchester LC, et al. A walnut-enriched diet reduces the growth of LNCaP human prostate cancer xenografts in nude mice. Cancer Invest. 2013 Jul;31(6):365-73.
- Sanchez-Gonzalez C, Ciudad CJ, Noe V, et al. Walnut polyphenol metabolites, urolithins A and B, inhibit the expression of the prostate-specific antigen and the androgen receptor in prostate cancer cells. Food Funct. 2014 Nov;5(11):2922-30.
- Kim H, Yokoyama W, Davis PA. TRAMP prostate tumor growth is slowed by walnut diets through altered IGF-1 levels, energy pathways, and cholesterol metabolism. J Med Food. 2014 Dec;17(12):1281-6.
- Spaccarotella KJ, Kris-Etherton PM, Stone WL, et al. The effect of walnut intake on factors related to prostate and vascular health in older men. Nutr J. 2008 May 2;7:13.
- Demark-Wahnefried W, Robertson CN, Walther PJ, et al. Pilot study to explore effects of low-fat, flaxseed-supplemented diet on proliferation of benign prostatic epithelium and prostate-specific antigen. Urology. 2004 May;63(5):900-4.
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- Hedelin M, Klint A, Chang ET, et al. Dietary phytoestrogen, serum enterolactone and risk of prostate cancer: the cancer prostate Sweden study (Sweden). Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Mar;17(2):169-80.
- Demark-Wahnefried W, Polascik TJ, George SL, et al. Flaxseed supplementation (not dietary fat restriction) reduces prostate cancer proliferation rates in men presurgery. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Dec;17(12):3577-87.
- Liu B, Mao Q, Cao M, et al. Cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis. Int J Urol. 2012 Feb;19(2):134-41.
- Abdull Razis AF, Noor NM. Cruciferous vegetables: dietary phytochemicals for cancer prevention. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(3):1565-70.
- Beaver LM, Yu TW, Sokolowski EI, et al. 3,3’-Diindolylmethane, but not indole-3-carbinol, inhibits histone deacetylase activity in prostate cancer cells. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2012 Sep 15;263(3):345-51.
- Yu C, Gong AY, Chen D, et al. Phenethyl isothiocyanate inhibits androgen receptor-regulated transcriptional activity in prostate cancer cells through suppressing PCAF. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Oct;57(10):1825-33.
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- Chinni SR, Li Y, Upadhyay S, et al. Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) induced cell growth inhibition, G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Oncogene. 2001 May 24;20(23):2927-36.
- Li Y, Chinni SR, Sarkar FH. Selective growth regulatory and pro-apoptotic effects of DIM is mediated by AKT and NF-kappaB pathways in prostate cancer cells. Front Biosci. 2005 Jan 1;10:236-43.
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