November is ( was) prostate cancer awareness month. I had been meaning to do a post on natural foods that may be preventive in nature and reduce progression of prostate cancer, but with writing posts for Diabetes Awareness month and Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, I took a backseat on this one. Well, better a little late than never. If you noticed some of your coworkers or friends growing beards and mustaches during November, it was to show support for Prostate Cancer Awareness month ! BTW Movember stands for November & Male, hence spelled Movember !! Like every other disease, some people are more prone to prostate cancer than others. Genetics, hormones, age, race, family history, where you live can all be risk factors. Treatment for prostate cancer ranges between chemotherapy to hormone therapy and diet or food is generally used for management of side effects due to radiation therapy. There are however some foods that seem to reduce the risk and progression of prostate cancer. Studies conducted suggest increased consumption of these foods lower PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) values thereby prevention progression of the disease to a carcinogenic cancer. I maintain as with all my other food and disease posts that since natural, whole foods are packed with synergistic nutrients that work together to provide a plethora of health benefits without causing negative side effects, they are a welcome addition to any diet.
Super Foods that may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Tomatoes : are loaded with an antioxidant called lycopene. The protective effect was slightly stronger for cooked tomato products like ketchup, marinara sauce, tomato soup rather than raw tomatoes in a salad or juice. Apparently cooking the tomatoes increases absorption and utilization of lycopene. Studies also found that small amounts of added fat improved lycopene absorption. Lycopene is also found in watermelon and grapefruit, but since these fruits are rarely cooked it seems more applicable to give lycopene credit to tomatoes. So, slather on the marinara sauce, ketchup and feed in to goodness of lycopene ! Smart alert !! Lycopene is also a natural sunscreen that offers skin protection, thereby preventing skin cancer. That seems a good enough reasons to make tomatoes a family favorite!
Green tea: Drinking Green Tea seems to lead to less prostate tissue inflammation which in turn lessens tumor growth by affecting substances called growth factors. This could be due to the high content of polyphenols, antioxidants that protect against cell damage in green tea.
Cruciferous Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, watercress, buck choy are all considered cruciferous vegetables. They are rich in components that prevent many kinds of cancer including prostate cancer. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered 3,3′-diindolylmethane in cruciferous vegetables is a strong androgen receptor antagonist in human prostate cancer cells.
Vitamin D : Seems to be the new black for everything from cancer to obesity. Studies indicate males with high level of Vitamin D less susceptible to prostate cancer. Higher intake of Vitamin D seem to suppress spread of the cancer. although Vitamin D is called the sunlight vitamin, there are several factors that prevent absorption of Vitamin D through sunlight. Hence, supplementation through foods that have been fortified with Vitamin D and taking a supplement are usually advisable in people having a deficiency of this Vitamin. I am deficient and take a 5mg supplement everyday.
Walnuts : One of the most healthy nuts I love are walnuts. They are said to slow cancer growth and reduce tumor size in mice. An interesting fact to note according to the National Cancer Institute is that while one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, only one in 36 will die from the disease because most tumors do not spread beyond the local site. So anything that can prevent tumor size from growing is beneficial indeed ! All the more reason to load up on this powerful nut ! To read about more health benefits of walnuts click here.
Conversely consumption of highly processed or charcoaled meats, dairy products, and fats seem to be correlated with prostate cancer. In general, a diet low in fat and red meat and high in fruits and vegetables is beneficial in preventing and treating prostate cancer.
Overall eating a well-balanced diet and regular exercise can contribute to good health and help manage side effects of prostate cancer treatment ! For example, many prostate cancer patients are treated with radiation therapy, and may experience fatigue and diarrhea, both of which can be managed with diet modifications. Other recommendations will be customized according to the type of cancer treatment received. Check with your doctor or dietitian for nutrition management of side effects.
Hope you found this post useful and remember the best medicine for any cancer or health condition is minimizing stress in your life !