Men's Health: Eating for Your Prostate

Whether you're a man or a woman, odds are you know someone who is currently battling or has died from prostate cancer. In fact, it's the second most common form of cancer among American men (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-key-statistics). It is estimated there will be about 250,000 new prostate cancer cases in 2021 and about 34,000 deaths from the disease in the USA alone.

While it can be serious, a diagnosis of prostate cancer isn't a death sentence; 3 million men in the U.S. who have been diagnosed are still alive today. Still, the therapy may involve surgery including castration, radiation therapy, and hormonal castration -- none of which sound appealing.

Therefore, the focus should be on what we can do to prevent this common cancer. Recently an analysis of adherence to lifestyle factors and cancer deaths demonstrated that lifestyle factors reduce the risk of cancer in general and prostate cancer specifically (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27488239).

A new study examining diet and PSA level used to assess prostate health was just reported (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34303759/). In 1399 men, the higher the plant diet intake the lower the risk of an elevated PSA blood test.  The authors recommended healthier lifestyles to avoid prostate issues, testing, and biopsies that could be avoided by diet changes. 

Several studies have identified lifestyle strategies -- some of which are actually fun -- that can help prevent prostate cancer and its growth. It's important to take note of these lessons:

1. Eliminate dairy: Earlier this year, news headlines lit up when a study found a relationship between high dairy intake and an increased risk of prostate cancer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25527754). It's unclear yet whether it's the casein protein, the insulin-like growth factor 1, the hormones and antibiotics found in many dairy products, or other unknown factors. But for now, consider switching out your dairy to "mylk" substitutes, like almond or cashew milk -- it's a manly option.

2. Eat a nutritious, plant-based diet: In one study, a combination of dried broccoli, curcumin, green tea, and pomegranates was tested in men with prostate disease (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24614693). The researchers found that the rise in biomarkers for prostate cancer was far lower with this plant-based combination compared to a placebo. So it'd be wise to consider eating and drinking these foods in their whole form.

3. Regularly ejaculate: A study analyzed by Harvard researchers correlated the frequency of ejaculation with prostate health. They observed that the lowest rates of prostate cancer were found in those who ejaculated often -- specifically, more than 21 times a month (http://www.medicaldaily.com/frequent-ejaculation-may-reduce-prostate-cancer-risk-how-orgasm-protects-against-334018).

4. Avoid meat: The importance of diet in preventing prostate cancer was highlighted in a study showing that a vegan diet was associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26561618). The World Health Organization declared in late October, 2015 that processed red meat was a class 1 carcinogen, meaning consuming it leads to an increased risk of prostate cancer (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26514947).

Prostate cancer rates are rising in younger men, and the black population is at highest risk. Since prostate cancer and its' therapy can result in impotence, incontinence, and death, prevention should be key. Although there are, of course, other factors at play, the steps outlined here will help set you on the path to a healthy prostate for life.

Author
Dr. Joel Kahn

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