Prevent Prostate Cancer with Proper Nutrition

A comprehensive approach to cancer care warrants the inclusion of a nutritional approach to disease prevention and treatment. For this reason the Urology Center at Cedars-Sinai produced this compilation of facts and medical research about several foods, nutrients and other naturally occurring substances as they pertain to prostate cancer. It is important to remember that the research on nutritional approaches to prostate cancer is at a preliminary stage. While significant evidence does exist, more research must be completed before the specific effects of diet on prostate cancer can be entirely proven. Furthermore, most of the available data on nutrition have been derived from studies that monitored the consumption of food rather than nutritional or herbal supplements.

We describe the risks and benefits of several nutritional substances to serve as a complement to the treatment prescribed by a physician. These suggestions are not meant to replace any type of therapy or treatment. It is strongly recommended that patients consult their physicians before adding any type of supplement to their diet or before making any changes in their eating habits. Furthermore, every case of cancer is different. Physician consultation is important for finding out which nutritional changes may be beneficial for the individual patient.

It is important to note that PC-SPES has recently been recalled by its manufacturer. This herbal preparation is thought to contain prescription drugs. However, these allegations have yet to be confirmed. Until further investigation is completed, any individuals taking this herbal preparation should discontinue until seeking medical advice immediately, especially if they are taking any other prescription medications. This uncertainty regarding the contents of PC-SPES illustrates the point that nutritional supplements are not regulated by the FDA and that it is difficult to be certain that they contain what they are advertised to contain.

Current research indicates that diet may play a large role in inhibiting the development and progression of many cancers. The incidence of prostate cancer in China is 1.08 cases per 100,000 males versus 92.39 cases per 100,000 males in North America. Researchers believe that the large incidence in North America may be due to a more "Westernized" diet, which is high in fat and low in fruit, vegetables and soy products. The risk factors for prostate cancer are age, ethnicity, family history and diet. Of these variables, diet is most easily modified. The guidelines that we recommend for overall healthy living are to:

  • Choose a diet rich in a variety of plant-based foods, including fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Maintain physical activity (especially aerobic exercise)
  • Increase intake of dietary fiber
  • Substitute soy protein for a proportion of the animal protein in the diet

In the past, most researchers have studied the role of nutrition in prostate cancer prevention. However, current studies are focusing more on nutrition as an integral part of treatment. Several nutrients have been studied for their role in the progression of prostate cancer. The following sections give general information about these nutrients, including the results of medical research on each nutrient and recommendations for individuals with this disease.