Health > Prostate Cancer
FIGHTING PROSTATE CANCER
If you could reduce your risk of prostate cancer by adjusting your diet, would you do it? If you knew that 179,000 new cases of prostate cancer would be diagnosed this year, and that 37,000 men would die, would you reconsider your answer? There is mounting evidence that diet is strongly linked to prostate cancer—the second most common cause of cancer-related death in men.
Though the statistics sound gloomy, the good news is that the diet you eat today may actually delay or prevent the development of prostate cancer down the road. In Asia, for example, the percentage of men who develop prostate cancer is far less than that of the United States, and the prostate cancer that develops in Asian men is more curable. Researchers have long speculated that certain aspects of the Asian diet may be protective against prostate cancer. And in certain Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy, the rate of prostate cancer is also low; some researchers speculate that diet is a factor there, as well.
Compounds called is flavones, found mainly in soybeans, are present in the Asian diet, but are virtually absent in the typical American diet. Asians eat the whole soybean or minimally processed by-products of the soybean, such as tofu and soymilk.
It is estimated that Japanese men consume up to 200 mg of is flavones per day while other Asian men consume 25-45 mg. American men, however, typically consume less than 5 mg of is flavones per day.
Is flavones may exert anti-tumor properties in a variety of ways. They might play a role in prohibiting the formation of new blood vessels that are necessary to feed a growing cancer. Since prostate cancer is a hormone-dependent cancer, the is flavones may lower the hormones that trigger prostate cancer, theoretically lessening the likelihood of the cancer growing.
GOOD SOURCES OF IS FLAVONES INCLUDE
Tofu - available in most refrigerated produce or dairy sections of your local supermarket. You can make a healthy shake by blending together 1/2 cup of tofu with a banana, orange juice, and other fruit.
Flavored soymilk - available in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or coffee, yields about 40 mg of is flavones in a one-cup serving and is made by several different companies.
Soy nuts - available in all health food stores, these yield 60 mg of is flavones per 1/4 cup.
Green tea contains cancer-preventing compounds called falconoid, which act as antioxidants. Several studies performed in animals suggest that one particular falconoid, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may have the ability to stop tumors from spreading. Japanese researchers have noted that cancer onset in patients consuming 10 cups of green tea per day seems to be three to eight years later when compared with people who consume three or less cups of green tea. The typical Asian consumes an average of five cups of green tea per day.
According to Dr. Douglas Balentine of the Lipton Tea company, if green tea is steeped for only one minute, the average falconoid content is 208 mg. If it is steeped for four minutes, the falconoid content increases to 300 mg.
RED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Lycopene is part of a group of compounds called carotenoids that are known for their antioxidant properties, which may include the ability to inhibit cancer. Where can you find lycopene? Watermelon and pink grapefruit contain lycopene, but tomato-based foods contain the most. When tomato-based foods are heated and mixed with a small amount of oil, the lycopene absorption is maximized. That makes cooked tomato products excellent sources of lycopene.
Eating a lot of vegetables can cut your risk of prostate cancer by about 45 percent. And if those vegetables are from the cruciferous family, like cabbage and broccoli, you may reduce your risk even further.
In the study, men who ate three or more servings per day of vegetables had a 48 percent lower risk of prostate cancer, compared with men who ate less than one serving per day. This association was independent of other dietary factors (such as fat intake) and a history of prostate cancer in a father or a brother. The strongest correlation was noted with the cruciferous vegetables—broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
Prostate cancer is a hormone-dependent cancer. Any aspect of the diet that binds hormones could have a positive effect on prostate health. Dietary fiber, for instance, may remove hormones from the system. It has been found that men who eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—all excellent sources of fiber—have lower circulating levels of male hormones.
THE BOTTOM LINE
No one food or supplement can protect you from prostate cancer. A diet that is lower in fat, contains at least five servings per day of fruits and vegetables, and the addition of soy-based products will go a long way in protecting your prostate.