According to the American Cancer Society, one out of eight men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. The risk is higher as you age, becoming increasingly common for those aged 50 and above.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and surrounds the top portion of the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder). It is a part of the male reproductive system, and its main function is to produce the seminal fluid, which protects and transports the sperm.
Prostate cancer is currently the top cancer risk for men and early detection is the key to complete recovery. Doctors recommend baseline-screening at age 45 and annual screening every year after for comparison. Men at higher risk, such as those with a family history of prostate cancer and African American men (more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer compared to white men) should begin screening by age 40.
What causes prostate cancer?
There is no clear conclusion on what causes prostate cancer.
It develops when the cells in the prostate encounter changes in their DNA. This new DNA communicates to the abnormal cells to multiply and divide more quickly than normal cells, which then causes the healthy cells to die.
Can a healthy diet help minimize the risk of developing prostate cancer?
Just like any other disease, a positive change or improvement in your lifestyle practices can help lower the chances of developing cancer. What you put inside your body has a big factor on your overall health- in fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated that a healthy diet is associated with longevity and lowered risk of obesity, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
A balanced diet means eating a wide variety of food in the right amounts, and consuming healthier and more nutrient-dense choices. For additional anti-prostate cancer properties, load up on the these super foods:
Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent and slow down cell damage.
This fruit (yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable!) is best eaten in its cooked form, as lycopene is tightly bound to the cell walls of raw tomatoes, making it hard for your body to extract it.
Clinical studies suggest that men who ate canned and cooked tomatoes five to six times per week had a 28% less chance of developing prostate cancer compared to those who do not consume the fruit.
How to get more tomatoes into your diet: it is perfectly okay to take processed tomato products, as they are quick to add to any dish and contain more lycopene than raw tomatoes. These include: tomato paste, tomato sauce, tomato ketchup, tomato juice, tomato soup, canned tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.
Other good sources of lycopene are watermelon, guava, red carrots, pink guava, grapefruit, fried apricots and pureed rosehip.
2. Green Tea
Polyphenols, a potent antioxidant known to protect against cell damage and found abundantly in green tea, inhibit the growth of cancer-related proteins. Research has linked drinking green tea to decreased inflammation of the prostate tissue.
A study conducted on 67 men with prostate cancer revealed that those who drank green tea for three to eight weeks achieved lower levels of prostate-specific antigens (PSA), a protein that may reflect prostate cancer.
Green tea is easy to take as a hot or cold beverage.
Other excellent sources of polyphenols are berries (blueberries, blackcurrant, blackberries, strawberries), herbs and spices (cloves, peppermint, star anise), chili pepper, cocoa powder (especially dark chocolates), nuts (chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans), vegetables (artichokes, red onions, spinach) and flaxseeds.
One of the most popular and delicious cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains sulforaphane, a chemical that deactivates body toxins, protects the DNA, slows down tumor growth and reduces inflammation.
Though sulforaphane is available in supplement form, doctors recommend taking it in its plant form, to enjoy the full benefits of vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, bok choy, kale, watercress and arugula.
4. Soy and Legumes
Soybeans and legumes are rich in phytoestrogen, a biologically active plant compound with strong antioxidant properties and effect on hormones and cell death. Prostate cancer cells need androgen to grow, and phytoestrogen can play a role in blocking the production of androgen by the testicles.
How to consume more soy and legumes to your daily diet: they are actually good red meat substitutes as they contain high amounts of protein.
Go meatless a few days a week, and instead, cook tofu dishes (do you know that any sauce you use for meat dishes can be used for tofu?) or a plant-based burger, such as one made with black beans.
Hummus is a delicious way to consume chickpeas. A hearty soup with lentils, peas and beans is also a filling option.
Food to avoid
Though there are no definitive causes of prostate cancer yet, studies suggest that a high-fat, high-sugar, high-dairy diet may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Go for good fats, such as olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds. In case you miss the taste of milk, go for plant-based options, such as almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk and rice milk.
It is best to limit your intake of sugary foods, as much as possible. Many processed foods, even those labelled as ‘healthy’, contain more refined sugar than you think. So always check the label and look for sweet whole foods, such as fruits, instead.
You may not immediately feel the effects of a healthy diet, but it’s what you do NOT feel that assures you that you are on the right track: diseases, inflammations and other body pains.
Eating healthy does not have to be difficult- Fresh ingredients can be easily-sourced now and the internet contains a wealth of recipes that you can try with these healthy ingredients.
Let food be thy medicine and be healthy!