Review finds dietary measures may aid in prostate cancer prevention and treatment
A review published in the June, 2009 issue of the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that consuming high amounts of fruit and vegetables while avoiding excessive red meat, fat, dairy products and calories, may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer as well as help manage the disease.
Robert W.-L. Ma of the University of New South Wales and K. Chapman of the Cancer Council New South Wales in Kings Cross, Australia reviewed studies concerning the prostate cancer preventive effects of tomato and lycopene, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, green tea, soy, long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, selenium, and weight loss. They also included studies concerning the effects of meat, dairy products, calcium, beta-carotene and fats in increasing prostate cancer risk.
A separate review of dietary measures employed as therapeutic interventions for prostate cancer included studies that utilized plant based foods, lycopene, vitamin E, soy, and a low fat diet.
In their summaries of the preventive effects of the individual dietary components, the authors conclude that lycopene, soy, vitamin E supplements, and selenium may help protect against prostate cancer, and that cruciferous vegetables and green tea could help protect against advanced disease. In regard to omega-3 fatty acids, they note that some evidence suggests that only individuals with a specific variation in the COX-2 gene may benefit from their increased intake. Concerning dietary factors that have been proposed to increase prostate risk, the authors agree that high fat and meat consumption, particularly processed or charcoaled meats, could increase prostate cancer risk. The evidence available for dairy products and calcium, although mixed, suggests that high amounts of either might increase risk, although calcium at levels of 1000 milligrams per day or less does not appear to be associated with risk elevation. Regarding beta-carotene, the authors "concur with the WCRF/AICR report that beta-carotene is 'unlikely to have a substantial effect on the risk of prostate cancer.'"
"Although conclusive evidence is limited, the current data are indicative that a diet low in fat, high in vegetables and fruits, and avoiding high energy intake, excessive meat, excessive dairy products and calcium intake, is possibly effective in preventing prostate cancer," the authors write. "The dietary recommendations for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer are similar to those aiming to reduce their risk of prostate cancer."
"In patients with prostate cancer, dietary therapy allows patients to be an active participant in their treatment," they note.
There are studies that show that dietary fat increases tumor growth rates in an animal model of human PC. In a mouse model of PC involving androgen-sensitive human prostatic adenocarcinoma cells (LNCaP cells), mice fed a 40.5% fat diet had mean tumor weights more than 2 times greater than mice fed a 21% fat diet. The 40.5% fat diet approximates that found in the average American male diet, which has been determined to be 36%.
The slower tumor growth associated with the low-fat diet occurred even after the formation of measurable tumors when the diets were changed from 40% fat to 21% fat. Serum PSA levels also were highest in the 40.5 kcal% fat group and lowest in another group fed only 2.3 kcal% fat.
The emphasis on dietary fat, per se, has lessened our focus on the importance of caloric over-consumption. Fat excess, however, is linked to excessive calorie consumption, since fat contains twice as many calories, gram for gram, as protein or carbohydrate.
Research studies have shown that vitamin E reduces growth rates of PCs resulting from a high fat diet. Tumor growth rates were highest in the animals fed a 40.5%-kcal fat diet (the typical American diet). Tumors in animals fed 40.5%-kcal fat plus vitamin E were the same as those fed a 21.2%- kcal fat diet (an ideal fat level).
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