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Dietary Intervention In Prostate Cancer - The Latest Facts

Saturday, February 04, 2012
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Research says that 47% of patients are asymptomatic,(1) however, symptoms in advanced stages include weight loss and loss of appetite; bone pain, with or without pathologic fracture and lower extremity pain and water retention.
While risk factors such as age, race, and family history cannot be controlled, a growing body of data suggests that it may be a preventable disease. Prevention means minimizing/avoiding the risk factors and focusing on enhancing the protective factors that can be controlled so that the probability of developing cancer decreases.  Prostate cancer is an attractive target for chemo-prevention because of its ubiquity, long latency between appearance of pre-cancer lesions and clinically evident cancer, and definitive stages of progression.
Broadly, prevention strategies involve these:
•    The right amount of calories to maintain a good weight
•    Enough protein to keep up your strength
•    Right amount & types of fats to maintain a healthy lipid profile
•    A healthful plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
•    Adequate physical activity
Specifically, Phytoestrogens/isoflavones, vitamins D and E, selenium, and lycopene have been identified as promising nutrients in the role of chemoprevention of prostate cancer.
Selenium: Selenium is believed to extend its effect via its antioxidant properties. Selenium is found in rice, wheat, meat, seafood and Brazil nuts etc.
Vitamin E: We get vitamin E in a wide range of foods, especially vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, and egg yolks. Vitamin E, like selenium, is an antioxidant, which might help control cell damage that can lead to cancer.
Soy: Frequent consumption of soymilk (at least daily) was associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of developing prostate cancer.(2)
Lycopene: It is found primarily in tomatoes and tomato-derived products and in other red fruits and vegetables. However, further studies are required to prove that it helps lowering the risk.
Although you can avoid the risk factors, it is important to bear in mind that there is no `guarantee' that you will not get cancer. Remember, some people are more genetically predisposed to developing specific cancers, than others. Talk to your health care provider about methods of preventing cancer that might be effective for you.
1.    Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, Paul Mellon Professor of Urologic Oncology, Department of Urology, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Prostate Cancer: Biology, Diagnosis, Pathology, Staging, and Natural History.
2.    Jacobsen BK et al. (1998) Does high soymilk reduce prostate cancer incidence? The Adventist Health Study (United States). Cancer Causes Control 9: 553-557

By P. Shanmugaraj, Dietitian,



User Comments

27 September, 2010 | Rahul | Reply

Rahul Since prostate cancer can remain asymptomatic, should men go in for some screening tests? If so, at what age?

28 September, 2010 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam The American Cancer Society recommends that all patients over the age of 50 should undergo a digital rectal examination and PSA testing.
However, individuals of certain races which are at high risk for prostate cancer or men with a strong family history of prostate cancer before age 65 – should get screened at age 45.

26 September, 2010 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam A study which followed 79,000 men over 20 years, found that men who consumed cooked tomatoes 2 to 3 times a week had a reduction of 40 to 50 percent in the risk of developing prostate cancer. For those men who did develop prostate cancer, ones who consumed more servings of tomato sauce had less number of blood vessels feeding their cancer. Tomatoes, are known to be an excellent source of lycopene, which is an anti cancer substance.

15 June, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Dear Rahul,

Men should get a test called Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which will indicate the level of PSA in the blood. It is normal for men to have a low level of PSA in their blood; however, prostate cancer or benign (not cancerous) conditions can increase a man’s PSA level. A man’s PSA level alone does not give doctors enough information to distinguish between benign prostate conditions and cancer. However, the doctor will take the result of the PSA test into account when deciding whether to check further for signs of prostate cancer.

A yearly screening is encouraged for men above 50 years of age and without family history, where as men with family history of prostrate cancer are advised to begin the screening at age 40.

Thank you for your query.

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy,
Senior Dietitian,

08 June, 2010 | Poonam Vaswani | Reply

Poonam Vaswani Substances called phytoestrogens in soyabeans seem to have a hormonal effect. They slow down the male hormones that increase risk of prostate cancer, and result in a better hormonal balance, thus offering protection from prostate cancer.

01 June, 2010 | Sahil | Reply

Sahil How does regular consumption of soy help in prevention of prostrate cancer?

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Tags: Cancer, Cancer Diet & Nutrition, Cancer Management, Cancer Prevention, Eat Healthy, Men's Health, Screening, Seniors Health


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