Dietary, Herbal and Lifestyle Changes can Lower Prostate Cancer Risks
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of deaths by cancer among men in the United States. There are 180,000 new cases diagnosed annually and some 35,000 to 40,000 men die each year from this decease.
In men 70 year or older, the disease is usually not as virulent and can frequently be treated by watchful waiting or a non-surgical approach. In younger men, some younger than 40, the disease appears to be more aggressive and the treatment itself needs to be more aggressive and include surgery, radiation or surgery and radiation in combination with hormonal manipulation. The side effects can include a low incidence of urinary control problems and a high incidence of erectile dysfunction.
The prostate gland is normally a walnut-size gland around the base of the bladder and urethra and whose main function is the production of semen which makes up 95 percent of the ejaculate during orgasm. The nerves going to the penis and necessary for erectile function run right on the surface of the prostate and therefore removal of the prostate or radiation to the prostate will injure these nerves and , in some cases, can cause erectile dysfunction.
The status of the patient’s sexual function prior to therapy and the age of the patient has a lot to do whether or not the treatments cause impotence. However, it occurs in at least 50 percent of the patients who have either radical surgery to remove the cancer and the prostate or radiation therapy by whatever form, external beam or brachytherapy (radioactive needles).
Rather than needing to have surgery or radiation therapy and worrying about the potential complications to cure one’s prostate cancer it would behoove men to concentrate on increasing their chances of preventing prostate cancer by following simple dietary herbal and lifestyle techniques.
- Reduce saturated fat. This is probably the most important step to protect yourself against developing prostate cancer as well as your risk of heat decease and cancer in general. Males who basically eat animal fats and dairy products run a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer. This was shown in a 59 country study. A Harvard research team found that men double their risk of developing progressive and aggressive prostate cancer if they ate meat five or more times a week versus those men who had red meat less than once a week. The theory is that animal fat increases the levels of male hormones circulating in the blood stream and produced by the liver. This tends to stimulate prostate cancer. Cut back on your animal fat and milk product intake including red meat, poultry with skin, butter and whole milk products. Other polyunsaturated oils also appear to be implicated in particular a high intake of Omega-6 fatty acids which is found in corn, safflower, sunflower and sesame oils. It is much more desirable from a cancer and cardiac point of view to use monosaturated fats such as olive oil.
- Consume soy and soy products. A University of Massachusetts study suggests that soy foods protect against prostate cancer more than any other type of food and explains the low rate of prostate cancer in the Japanese population who consume large quantities of soy products. The isoflavonoid found in soy products appear to inhibit prostate cancer and even breast cancer. A specific one called genistein has actually been shown to inhibit prostate cancer cells in the test tube. Increase consumption of soy foods to a minimum of two to three times per week including foods like tofu, tempeh, soy milk, green soybeans and soy meat substitutes.
- Eat vegetables and especially tomatoes. Vegetables appear to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and some vegetables appear to have a very strong protective function as demonstrated by a Harvard study in 1955 showing a 20 percent decrease in prostate cancer among men who ate tomatoes or tomato sauce four times a week and a 45 percent reduction in those who ate 10 servings a week. The red pigment lycopene appears to be the productive compound. Although other studies suggest green peas, baked beans, broccoli and cabbage as well as vegetables high in fiber appear to reduce prostate cancer risks as well. Five to nine servings of these fruits and vegetables a day should be consumed by men and if you take a mixed carotene supplement chose one that includes lycopene at least 45 micrograms per capsule.
- Use selenium daily. Selenium on a daily basis appears to be a potent mineral antioxidant that decreases cancer risks in general, but more specifically prostate cancer. In a recent Journal of the National Cancer Institute article evaluating 33,000 men the amount of selenium in toenail clippings suggested that men with high levels of selenium in these clippings developed 65 percent less prostate cancer than those with the low levels. A 200 microgram dose of selenium per day appears to produce one third less cancer than those taking a placebo in a 1996 University of Arizona study by Dr. Andrew Weil.
- Take Vitamins C and E. Vitamins C and E are both antioxidant vitamins protective for cancer in general. Vitamin C inhibits prostate cancer from spreading in the laboratory and Vitamin E in doses as low 50 international units daily decreases the incidences of prostate cancer in smokers by 32 percent. Take 400 to 800 international units of natural Vitamin E per day along with 500 milligrams of Vitamin C twice a day. Remember never to take Vitamin C and selenium together since they bind and become ineffective whereas selenium works well with the oil soluble Vitamin E.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise decreases obesity which is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer and probably a higher level of hormone production. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling five times a week should be performed by everyone. In men under 60 years of age there is a four-fold decrease in prostate cancer with this level of exercise.
- Eat plenty of fiber. Eat 30 to 35 grams of fiber daily by eating whole grains, cereals, breads, legumes, fruits and vegetables and nuts several times a week. These foods are high in certain food types including lignins and phyto-estrogens that appear to influence sex hormones an inhibitor that inhibits cancer progression and protects against prostate cancer.
- Eat salmon, sardines, mackerel or herring. Regular consumption of oily, cold-water fish lowers the risk of prostate cancer. These particular fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids which appear to be protective not only against prostate cancer but also breast and cardiovascular decease. Suggest two or three servings per week.
- Sip green tea. Green tea is the traditional beverage of Japan and China and appears to reduce cancer in general including prostate cancer. Green tea contains an antioxidant called EGCG which not only kills prostate cancer cells in test tubes but also appears to inhibit enzymes that promote prostate and breast cancer. Suggest you substitute green tea for coffee, black tea or colas. Decaffeinated green tea is also available and still retains its antioxidant affect.
- Drink more water. Hydration makes for more urine and the removal of toxic materials from the body. Drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water daily.
- Go outdoors in the sun. Prostate cancer appears to be higher in those areas of the world where there is the least sunlight for the shortest period of time. In the United States the highest rates are in New England and the lowest is in the Sunbelt. This may be related to protection caused by Vitamin D which is produced by exposure to sunlight. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure daily without sun screen is suggested so your body can produce Vitamin D and possibly supplementing your diet with 400 to 800 international units of Vitamin D daily.(Check with your dermotologist.)
- Reduce exposure to hormone disruptive chemicals. Pesticides and other chemicals in our food and water may affect hormone functions promoting prostate and even breast cancer. These hormone disruptive chemicals may come from plastic cookware or plastic wrappings. Suggest you use organic produce which has none of the pesticides, herbicide and chemicals usually found in food. Filter your water and avoid plastic wrap in direct contact with the food. Use glass or ceramic containers for heating food.
- Don’t smoke. Tobacco smoke contains cadmium, a trace mineral that appears to be linked to prostate cancer and therefore smoking should be discontinued. Alcohol appears to increase circulating levels of sex hormones and it has been found that men who drink alcohol are more likely to die from prostate cancer than those that don’t.