Nutrition

What you eat - and perhaps how you cook it - may affect not only your risk of getting prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. but also how the disease progresses and your response to treatment.

That's the conclusion of multiple studies from around the world into links between diet and prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. that are generating considerable excitement among specialists.

On this page:

  • Cut down on red and processed meats
  • Eat more fish
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats
  • Avoid dairy products
  • Improve your fatty acid balance
  • Eat more fruit and vegatables
  • Don't overcook meat
  • Look for prostate-friendly products
  • How much difference can it make?

The possibility that diet could influence the development of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. is suggested by different countries having different levels of the disease. For example, prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. is much less common in Asian countries than in the West, but rates increase significantly among Japanese men who move to the USA.

Why? One theory, supported by some studies, is that the typical Western diet - high in saturated fats, red and processed meats, dairy products, cooking oils and refined carbohydratesA group of compounds that are an important energy source, including sugars and starch. - may contribute to the risk of developing prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Another theory is that certain common ingredients of Asian diets, such as soya protein and green tea, may be protective.

A prostate-friendly diet will probably also benefit your general health

Investigations into such effects are relatively recent and some studies give conflicting results. There are almost certainly multiple interacting factors involved and scientists don't yet have the definitive answers.

However, what doctors now think is that a prostate-friendly diet will probably also benefit your general health. So here are some top tips based on research so far.

Cut down on red and processed meats

Numerous studies have linked an increased risk of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. with higher consumption of red meat, and especially processed meats. Black men may be at particular risk, at least in the USA - one study by the American Cancer Society showed that black men who ate the most red meat had a doubled risk of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. compared with men with lower intakes. Most of this increased risk was linked with cooked and processed meats such as sausages, bacon and hot dogs.

How?

Limit red meat to one or two meals a week at most - eat fish and poultry instead. Avoid processed meat and meat products such as burgers, meat pies, sausages, bacon and hot dogs.

Oily fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D

Eat more fish

Higher fish intakes have been proposed as one reason for the lower incidenceThe number of new episodes of a condition arising in a certain group of people over a specified period of time. of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. in Asian countries. Even taking account of other possibly protective ingredients in Asian diets, men in Japan who eat more fish have a lower risk of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. The same has been found in other countries with very different dietary patterns, such as the USA and Sweden. This is consistent with laboratory studies showing that the fats in oily fish, called omega-3 fatty acids inhibit growth of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. cells. Oily fish is also a rich source of vitamin D, low levels of which have been implicated in prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. risk. High fish consumption also seems to reduce the risk of disease progression after prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. treatment.

How?

Eat at least two weekly portions of oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, fresh tuna and sardines. To avoid potentially toxic mercury levels (mercury from pollution in the oceans accumulates, especially in oily fish), it is advisable for men in most countries to eat no more than four portions of oily fish a week, and no more than one weekly serving of marlin, shark or swordfish (lower safe limits apply to women and children).

Reduce your intake of saturated fats

Men consuming diets high in saturated fats (those largely derived from animal sources) seem to have worse outcomes after surgery for localised prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and possibly after radiotherapy for more advanced disease. In addition, cutting down on saturated fats helps to avoid obesityExcess accumulation of fat in the body., which some studies link with an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and perhaps increased overall mortality. Being overweight can also affect the accuracy of PSA testing, which may make it less effective at detecting prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. in obese men, leading to more aggressive cancers at the time of diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have..

How?

Cut down on meat and meat products, hard cheese, butter, ghee, lard, pastries, cakes, biscuits, full-fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. milk, cream, coconut and palm oils. Use low-fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. milk, cheese and yoghurt or substitute soya or rice milk. Choose lean cuts of meat, trim all visible fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. and remove skin from poultry before cooking. Don't fry foods or put butter on vegetables. Don't eat anything containing trans fatty acids, found in margarines, fried and baked foods. These are artificial fats formed when vegetable oils are processed to make them more stable. They are more harmful than saturated fats and are known to promote cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. growth.

Avoid dairy products

Research has suggested a link between high dairy consumption and a raised risk of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Some studies implicate the protein or calciumAn element that forms the structure of bones and teeth and is essential to many of the body's functions. content of dairy products, while others have found links with the saturated fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. content. Unfortunately, low-fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. alternatives cannot be recommended. According to one study of nearly 30,000 men at the US National Cancer Institute, low-fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. dairy products were more strongly associated with the risk of non-aggressive (but not aggressive) prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. than was total dairy intake.

How?

Minimise your intake of milk, cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt and ice cream. Dairy foods are important sources of calciumAn element that forms the structure of bones and teeth and is essential to many of the body's functions., which is needed for bone health, especially if you are taking hormoneA substance produced by a gland in one part of the body and carried by the blood to the organs or tissues where it has an effect. therapy for prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. So if you choose to reduce dairy produce make sure to get sufficient calciumAn element that forms the structure of bones and teeth and is essential to many of the body's functions. from other foods, like salmon or sardines with the bones, oatmeal, spinach, tofu, almonds, beans and kale. Calcium from other foods does not seem to raise prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. risk, and nor do calciumAn element that forms the structure of bones and teeth and is essential to many of the body's functions. supplements.

Improve your fatty acid balance

Essential fatty acids are those which cannot be made in the body and have to be taken in with the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils may play a role in reducing prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. risk, and in laboratory studies have been shown to inhibit prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. cells, whereas omega-6 fatty acids, found in oils such as corn, rapeseed and sunflower, may promote prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. growth.

Western diets now contain disproportionately high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 generally around 12 to 1 or 15 to 1 and as high as 30 to 1 or even 50 to 1 in some countries, whereas the optimum is probably around half-half or two to one. This imbalance has been linked with many modern disorders, including heart disease and various cancers. Laboratory evidence suggests that redressing this balance may inhibit prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. growth and improve survival.

How?

Eat more omega-3 fatty acids, from oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, and also in flaxseeds, flax oil, egg yolks, leafy green vegetables like spinach, seeds and nuts. Bake, steam, boil or poach foods rather than frying them in vegetable oil. For cooking and salad dressings, use olive oil, which may protect against prostate and other cancers.

It is probably best to obtain most vitamins from food sources rather than supplements

Eat more fruit and vegetables

Fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and plant fibre that may inhibit cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. initiation and growth. Fruit and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that are powerful antioxidants, combatting free radicals, harmful agents produced in the body during metabolismThe chemical reactions necessary to sustain life. that may promote cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Increasing dietary fibre intake may reduce the risk of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and possibly improve survival after diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have., although not all studies are consistent on this matter.

Men with prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. have reduced bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. levels of vitamins C and E and selenium. Some studies have suggested that vitamin E supplementation may reduce the risk of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and advanced disease. However, results are not consistent and vitamin E supplements have also been linked with increased mortality among older people. Other studies have suggested an increased risk of advanced prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. among men who take multivitamin supplements regularly. So it is probably best to obtain most vitamins from food sources rather than supplements.

How?

Rich sources of vitamin C include citrus fruit, papaya, berries, broccoli, spinach, cantaloupe melon, bell peppers, kiwi fruit and mango. Vitamin E is found in hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, olive and avocado oils, wheatgerm, peas, sweet potatoes and low-fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. milk.

Add extra servings of vegetables to meals in place of red meat or refined carbohydratesA group of compounds that are an important energy source, including sugars and starch.. Use fruits and chopped vegetables as snacks in place of crisps, biscuits and cakes. Swap refined grains - white rice, pasta and bread - for whole-grain varieties. Aim to eat at least five and preferably nine servings of fruit and vegetables daily - generally the more vivid the colour, the higher the content of vitamins and minerals, so the more colours on your plate the better.

Food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, fresh fish, grains, mushrooms, pumpkin and sesame seeds, wheatgerm, bran, oats, fresh tuna, chicken and brown rice. In many countries, however, selenium levels in soil have fallen in recent years to the extent that it is often now difficult to obtain sufficient selenium from a normal diet. Although generally it is better to obtain nutrients from foods than from supplements, some specialists therefore recommend that men wishing to guard against prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. should take selenium supplements, 200mcg daily.

Don't overcook meat

A few studies have suggested that a high consumption of overcooked red meats, especially hamburgers, may increase prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. risk due to the production of cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.-promoting chemicals at high temperatures.

How?

Avoid grilling and pan-frying red meat and processed meat products.

Look for prostate-friendly foods

Tomatoes

A high intake of lycopene, the red pigment in tomatoes, reduces the risk of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. Cooked tomato products such as pasta and pizza sauces, tomato paste and ketchup are richer sources than raw tomatoes, Lycopene is also found in rosehips, watermelon, papaya, pink grapefruit, and guava.

Soya

High intake of soya, one of the most popular foods in Asia, has been shown to reduce prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. risk in places as distinct as China and Scotland.

Scientists think that the effects of soya are due to its high content of oestrogenA hormone involved in female sexual development, produced by the ovaries.-like plant chemicals called isoflavones, also present in red clover, and to a limited extent in green tea, peas, beans, lentils and other legumes. In laboratory experiments, soya isoflavones have been shown  to suppress the growth and metastasisThe spread of a malignant tumour to other parts of the body. of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. cells. Some small studies have suggested that isoflavones can slow the rate of rise in PSA levels after local prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. treatment and perhaps enhance the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.-suppressive effects of radiotherapy for prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

The highest amounts of isoflavones are found in cooked products such as soya nuts (roasted soya beans), tempeh (fermented soya bean cake) and tofu (soft curd made from coagulated soya milk). Soya milk, yoghurt or cream substitutes and fresh or frozen soya beans are also available.

Cruciferous vegetables

These cabbage-family vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts and kale. They contain plant chemicals called sulforaphanes, which protect against prostate and other cancers, as well as other helpful vitamins and minerals.

Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice contains powerful antioxidants that may prevent or slow the growth of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body.. In one scientific study at the University of California, Los Angeles, drinking a daily glass of pomegranate juice significantly slowed rising PSA levels after radiotherapy or surgery for prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

Green tea

Another proposed reason for the protective effect of Asian diets against prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. is the consumption of green (unfermented) tea. According to a study at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, Japan, men who drank five or more cups of green tea daily had a reduced risk of advanced prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. compared with those drinking less than one cup a day.

If you have early-stage prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and have chosen active surveillance, you may be able to avoid or delay treatment by making changes to your diet and lifestyle

How much difference can it make?

  • Following a typical Western dietary pattern may nearly double your risk of developing prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., according to a study of nearly 1,000 men in Australia. Men whose diet included high intakes of red and processed meats, fried fish, hamburgers, chips, high-fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. milk and white bread had an 82 per cent higher risk of developing prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. over ten years compared with men following vegetable-based or health-conscious diets. The effects were especially apparent for aggressive prostate cancers
  • Eating fish more than three times a week almost halves the risk of developing metastatic prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. compared with consumption less than twice a month, according to a study by Harvard School of Public Health in the USA
  • In one scientific study in China, compared with men who ate soya bean products less than once a week, men who ate them more than twice a week had a 62 per cent lower risk of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., and those who consumed them more than once daily had a 71 per cent lower risk
  • A man's diet after diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. of prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. may affect the risk that the cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. will progress. One study showed that eating two portions of fish weekly could reduce the risk by 17 per cent, while consuming two tomato sauce servings weekly reduced it by 20 per cent
  • If you have early-stage prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. with a GleasonA system used to assess the extent of abnormality of prostate cancer cells. score less than 7, PSA between 4 and 10nanograms/ml and have chosen active surveillance, you may be able to avoid or delay treatment for at least two years by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. That's the conclusion of a study at the University of California, Irvine, looking at a programme in which men with early prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. adopted a low-fatOne of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body., plant-based diet, exercised regularly, practiced stressRelating to injury or concern. management and attended group support sessions. Only five per cent required conventional prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. treatment (radical prostatectomyThe surgical removal of the entire prostate gland., radiotherapy or androgenA type of steroid hormone that stimulates male development. Testosterone is an androgen. deprivation treatment) after two years, compared with 27 per cent of a group who did not participate in the health programme.

More prostate cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. practical help features - Complementary therapies, Hormone treatment - making a decision