How What You Eat Can Impact Your Prostate Cancer

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About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives, says The American Cancer Society. But there is good news. The simple act of eating the right foods can improve your chances of becoming a prostate cancer survivor.

Some foods fuel disease

Experts — backed by research — believe some foods can impact prostate cancer growth. In one published study of 30 men with untreated cancer confined to the prostate gland, eliminating meat and dairy from their diets and converting to a vegetarian diet resulted in a significant decrease in the rate of prostate cell growth.

“If they’re eating sugary things and they’re eating a lot of meat and dairy products, we know those foods provide fuel to the cancer cells,” urologist David Levy, MD says.

Dr. Levy tells his prostate cancer patients to limit red meat and eat it no more than two or three times per month.

He also recommends his patients eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and significantly limit dairy and sugary foods.

The role of omega-3 fatty acids

Dr. Levy also advises his patients to increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Foods like salmon, chia seeds, sardines and flaxseed are rich in omega-3s.

Dr. Levy says he also asks his patients to decrease their intake of omega-6 fatty acids. Foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and chicken wings are high in omega-6s.

Adjusting the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 has been shown to slow the growth of prostate cancer cells, Dr. Levy says.

Vitamin D also has shown to play a role in prostate cancer.

“Low vitamin D levels have been correlated with more aggressive prostate cancers and more aggressive cancer cell behavior,” Dr. Levy says. “Higher vitamin D levels seem to slow down the cells.”

Prostate cancer patients should talk to their health care provider about whether diet changes might help, Dr. Levy says.

Habits that can lower your risk

A strong family history of prostate cancer can increase your chances of developing the disease. While these factors are beyond our control, being aware of increased risk can help you focus on the areas you can affect.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with prostate cancer, here are three ways you can manage your risk of developing the disease:

  1. Eat healthy. Avoid foods high in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, refined sugar and trans fat, which contribute to cancer risk. Choose foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil and peanuts. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  2. Be active. Do 75 minutes of vigorous activity or 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. This could be walking, swimming, biking or any exercise your doctor recommends.
  3. Get screened. Men ages 55 to 69 who are considering prostate cancer screening should talk with their doctors about the benefits and harms of testing and proceed based on their personal values and preferences,  the American Urological Association recommends.

 

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