Nutritional Support for Prostate Cancer
The prostate is part of the male reproductive system that is found between the bladder and the rectum. This walnut-sized gland usually enlarges as one gets older, and in some elderly individuals, malignant growth (cancer) occurs. Studies show that the risk of prostate cancer increases after the age of 50, and is more likely to occur among African-Americans, among those who have a family history of the disease, and among men who eat fatty foods.
Symptoms of prostate cancer and other problems in the prostate include urinary problems such as difficulty urinating, frequent urination, painful ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, bloody urine, bloody semen, pelvic pain, and abdominal pain. In advanced stages, one may experience significant weight loss, swelling of the legs, and bone pain.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that about 30,000 men will die from prostate cancer, and around 233,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2014. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer, and the second leading cause of death in men. It is estimated that about one in six men will develop the disease, but studies show that there are ways to prevent it or to reduce one’s risk of developing the condition. Current treatments include surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy. However, new studies also suggest that nutritional support, combined with lifestyle modification, plays an important role in the treatment of the early stages of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer and Diet
Studies suggest that dietary and lifestyle factors play a role in the development of many types of cancer, including prostate cancer. A strong link has been observed between obesity, the consumption of dietary fats, and prostate cancer. Excessive caloric intake, consumption of high-fat foods, red meats, processed meats, and sugary foods have been shown to increase men’s risk of developing prostate cancer. In contrast, men who consume more fruits and vegetables, especially those that are high in lycopene, are less likely to have the disease.
There is no specific diet that has been found to prevent or treat prostate cancer, but studies suggest that the Southern Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet are associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer. Both of these diets are characteristically low in red meat, calories and fat, but include healthier foods such as fish and vegetables. A Mediterranean-style diet is also high in fruits, olive oil, garlic and red wine, while a Japanese diet includes soy and green tea.
Here are some dietary recommendations from health experts to lower your risk of prostate cancer:
- Reduce your consumption of animal fat, primarily from red meat and high-fat dairy products, which are known to stimulate the growth of prostate cancer.
- Avoid trans fats, which are found in margarine, fried foods and baked products.
- Increase your intake of fresh fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy type of fat. Cold-water fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, and trout, may be eaten at least two to three times a week. Avoid frying fish, and instead, bake, poach, or grill them.
- Increase your daily intake of fresh fruit, vegetable, and herb. These foods have powerful anticancer and antioxidant nutrients. Excellent sources include citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, mango, sweet peppers, spinach, cantaloupe, grapes, leafy dark-green vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
- Eat soy-based foods such as tofu, soy milk, and veggie burgers.
- Avoid high-calcium foods, which have been linked to prostate cancer growth.
- Drink green tea and red wine moderately.
- Avoid eating excess pickled, salted, or preserved foods.
- Avoid flax seed oil, which is known to stimulate prostate cancer growth.
- Use olive oil and avocado oil, which are rich in antioxidants and vitamin E.
- Avoid using oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats such as canola, soybean, or corn.
Health Supplements for Prostate Cancer
Although still inconclusive, several studies suggest that taking some health supplements may help prevent the risk of developing prostate cancer. These include:
- Multivitamins with B-complex and folic acid. Recommended doses are as follows:
Vitamin A – 900 to 3,000 μg/day
Vitamin B6 – 1.7 mg to 100 mg/day
Vitamin B12 – 2.4 μg/day
Vitamin C – 90 to 2,000 mg/day
Vitamin D – 400 to 2,000 IU/day
Calcium – 1,200 to 2,500 mg/day
Folic acid – 400 to 1,000 μg/day
- Vitamin E (50 to 100 IU daily). Natural sources include seeds and nuts, peas, avocado oil, olive oil, wheat germ, and nonfat milk.
- Selenium (200 mcg daily), a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system. Natural sources include fresh fish, Brazil nuts, grains, mushrooms, bran, wheat germ, whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oats.
- Lycopene, which has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Natural sources include tomatoes and tomato-based products such as tomato ketchup, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.
- Avoid high doses of zinc supplements.
- Some studies suggest that beta-sitosterol (130 mg /day) can help in the treatment of prostate problems such as enlarged prostate and prostate cancer. This nutrient is also found in soybeans and herbs such as pygeum, saw palmetto, and stinging nettle.
Nutritional therapy to help relieve the side effects of prostate cancer treatment includes:
- Eating low-fat food items and cold food to reduce nausea that is associated with cancer therapy.
- Eating fiber-rich foods and increasing fluid intake to combat constipation.
- Eating high-protein snacks and taking small, frequent meals to fight fatigue.
This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.
Medscape. Prostate Cancer and Nutrition. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/453191-overview#a30
NCI. Prostate Cancer, Nutrition, and Dietary Supplements. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/prostatesupplements/Patient/page4
WebMD. Is There a Prostate Cancer Diet? http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/features/is-there-prostate-cancer-diet
Meschino Health. A Review of Prostate Nutritional Support. http://www.meschinohealth.com/ArticleDirectory/A_Review_of_Prostate_Nutritional_Support
Prostate Cancer Foundation. Nutrition, Exercise and Prostate Cancer. http://www.pcf.org/atf/cf/%7B7c77d6a2-5859-4d60-af47-132fd0f85892%7D/NUTRITION-EXERCISE-AND-PROSTATE-CANCER.PDF
Nutritional Therapy for Prostate Cancer. http://www.cancercenter.com/prostate-cancer/nutrition-therapy/