Prostate cancer will affect about 1 out of 6 men during their lifetime, and according to the Brazilian Instituto Nacional de Câncer (INCA), prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men in Brazil. Only skin cancer is more common.
Risk factors for developing prostate cancer include race (more common in blacks and less common in Asians), age above 60, and family history.
We cannot change our race, age, or family history, but we can do some things to help prevent this cancer, and if it does occur, a current research study gives hints on dietary measures that could help retard the growth of the tumor.
To avoid this cancer in the first place, the best measure a man can take is to avoid obesity. Obese men are definitely at higher risk, and men who are physically active, and who avoid a lot of saturated fats and refined carbohydrates seem to have a lower risk. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables along with whole grains has also been shown to lower the risk.
The new research we are considering today though concerns the issue of men who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Are there dietary measures these men can take to lower the risk that the cancer will spread or eventually kill them?
It is important to note here though that a majority of men with prostate cancer do not die of prostate cancer. It is usually a slowly growing tumor, and if caught in the earlier stages, is curable with surgery or radiation. A majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer die of something else; most commonly cardiovascular disease.
Still, if someone you know is fighting prostate cancer, this study published June 10 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine gives some good dietary hintsResearchers from the University of California, San Francisco (USA) examined dietary data from over 51,000 men who were from 40 to 75 years when the study began in 1986. They studied the association between the mens’ diet and the risk of developing various cancers.
Regarding the prostate, they found strong associations between fat intake and surviving prostate cancer if diagnosed. Here is a summary of their findings:
1) The risk of death from prostate cancer was almost 50% less in men who ate a large amount of vegetable fats;
2) Adding just 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (such as olive or canola oil) to the men’s diet reduced their risk of death from the cancer by 29%;
3) Eating 30 grams of nuts daily decreased their risk by 18%.
So the key seems to be: eat less fat from meat (including chicken skin), and do eat lots of vegetable fats. Especially good sources of vegetable fats include olive oil (unheated) and canola oil, nuts, margarine, seeds, and avocados.
The reason these foods cut the risk of cancer spreading is not known for sure, but seems to be related to the anti-oxidants in these foods, which protects against the cell damage and inflammation that stimulate tumor growth.
Note that these types of fats are good for you, but also have significant calories, and the researchers recommended cutting down on sugars and carbohydrates to compensate for the increased calories from the added fats.
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