Prevent Prostate Cancer With Proper Nutrition
A comprehensive approach to cancer care warrants the inclusion of a nutritional approach to disease prevention and treatment. 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.
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.
Dietary Fat and Fatty Acids for Prostate Cancer
Dietary fat provides energy and essential fatty acids for the body. In addition, fat acts as a carrier for vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are classified loosely as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, depending upon which type of fatty acid is predominant in the fat. Polyunsaturated fats (found primarily in vegetable oils, such as oils of corn, safflower and sunflower) contain high amounts of linoleic acid, a fatty acid that stimulates prostate cancer cell growth. Olive oil consists predominantly of monounsaturated fat and does not pose a problem. Overall, high-fat diets are linked to an increased risk for prostate cancer. During the metabolism of fat, a large number of damaging free radicals are produced. These damaging molecules can promote the growth of cancerous cells.
Dietary Fiber for Prostate Cancer
Dietary fiber is derived from the structural components of plants. It includes the storage and cell wall parts of plants that cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes. Fiber absorbs 10 to 15 times its weight in water. Therefore, it brings fluids to the intestines and increases movement of the bowels. Dietary fiber has many functions in the body. It may bind to carcinogens and other harmful compounds and eliminate them from the body.
Dietary fiber can be soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber can be digested, and insoluble fiber cannot be digested. Sources of insoluble fiber include some fruits, fresh and cooked vegetables, wheat bran and whole grains. Sources of soluble fiber include apples, citrus fruits, oat bran, barley and legumes. In addition, fiber can lower cholesterol levels and decrease risks for some cancers. Fiber has also demonstrated the ability to lower the risk of prostate cancer progression. In fact, fiber may have the ability to decrease levels of testosterone. By eating high levels of soluble fiber, men may be able to lower their plasma levels of testosterone. Therefore, the testosterone is not available to stimulate tumor growth.
Fruits and Vegetables for Prostate Cancer
Fruits and vegetables offer several benefits. First, they contain antioxidants, which can destroy carcinogens. Second, they contain dietary fiber, which may lower testosterone levels, thus taking away a stimulus for tumor growth. In addition, fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of phytonutrients, which are unique substances produced by plants to protect the plant cells against damage. These substances work the same way in the body, protecting cells against damage. Each phytonutrient works differently to promote overall good health. Many of these substances exhibit anti-cancer effects. Lycopene, the red pigment found in tomatoes, is a phytonutrient that exhibits anti-cancer effects.
Green Tea for Prostate Cancer
Green tea contains antioxidants called polyphenols. One of these compounds, called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), has more powerful antioxidant properties than vitamins C and E.
Treatment plans depend on such factors as tumor type, grade of disease (how aggressive), the stage of disease (how far it has spread) and the patient's age and general health. Treatment options may include:
- Surgery, including removal of the prostate and local lymph nodes. This typically includes minimally invasive approaches such as robotic-assisted surgery.
- Radiation therapy, including traditional external beam therapy and implantable radioactive "seeds" to kill cancer cells
- Active surveillance, which is a program that allows a man diagnosed with prostate cancer to actively monitor his disease and have the highest quality of life possible while delaying or even completely avoiding invasive treatments.
- Clinical trials, which explore new treatment options.
- Hormone therapy, also known as Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), prevents the production of male sex hormones (known as androgens). Hormone therapy is used in combination with radiation therapy for men at several stages of cancer, including those with early-stage disease at high risk for recurrence or those who have advanced, recurrent or metastatic disease.
- Prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the prostate gland, either in its entirety or in part. At Cedars-Sinai, all prostatectomies are completed using integrated, robotic technology.
Prostate cancer clinical trials underway at Cedars-Sinai are designed to explore various facets of the disease, including possible new treatment options — from surgery to radiation — as well as new diagnostic, imaging and genetic-based advancements.