Doctor’s Orders: Eat These Veggies to Prevent Prostate Cancer

Grilled bok choy with soy.

Grilled bok choy with soy. Wikimedia

According to the American Cancer Society, the 2016 estimates for prostate cancer in the United States is 180,890 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed with about 26,120 deaths. This makes prostate cancer the most common cancer among men other than skin cancer.

Prostate cancer develops mainly in men over the age of 65 and is rare in men under the age of 40. One man out of 7 will be diagnosed with this disease during his lifetime.

There are several strategies of possible ways for a man to reduce his risk of developing prostate cancer including achieving a healthy body and not smoking but food choices have been shown through research to be a very effective method of minimizing the risk even more.

Most men like a plan of action and here is a dietary plan all men should embrace that could curtail their chance of developing prostate cancer:

  • Increase cruciferous vegetable intake.

What are and why cruciferous vegetables? Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussel Sprouts, bok choy, radishes, and turnips.

These cancer fighters contain phytochemicals that stimulate the body to detoxify carcinogens and have been shown to be associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. One study showed men who consumed three or more half-cup servings of cruciferous vegetables each week, were 41 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.

  • Aim for more allium vegetables.

Vegetables belonging to the Allium genus include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives. These versatile vegetables are high in beneficial sulfur compounds, giving them their distinctive flavor and aroma. These same organosulfur compounds appear to have anti-cancer effects and are associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

  • Step-up intake of tomatoes.

Many studies have clearly shown the benefit of boosting consumption of tomato-based foods, particularly cooked. Men who increased their intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products reduced their total risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent and their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 50 percent.

The special substance found in tomatoes is called lycopene which is believed to be the main reason for helping reduce risk of prostate cancer. When tomatoes are cooked, such as is the case of tomato paste or sauce, the lycopene content is more bioavailable than in raw tomatoes.

  • Paint your plate with colorful food.

The rich yellow and orange colors of carotenoid containing vegetables of carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and corn, all help lower the risk of prostate cancer. Carotenoids are the pigments giving fruits and vegetables their bright colors. They act as powerful antioxidants protecting cells from free radicals, substances working to destroy cell membranes and DNA. Studies have shown carotenoids play a role in lowering men’s cancer risk from prostate cancer.

  • Know your vitamin D level.

Studies have shown men with insufficient vitamin D levels do have an association with an increased risk of not only prostate cancer but also other cancers. The sun is the best source of vitamin D–exposure to sunlight at least three times a week for 10-15 minutes for lighter-skinned men and up to 30 for darker-skinned men, should provide adequate vitamin D without increasing risk of skin cancer.

Food sources include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and fortified milk.

A blood level (25(OH)D) for vitamin D should fall between 30 and 45 ng/ml. Men who do not get sufficient exposure to the sun and or do not regularly consume food sources of vitamin D, should consider taking 2000 IU daily of vitamin D to ensure adequate stores.

  • Increase food sources of folate and avoid the synthetic or man-made form of folic acid.

Folic acid it is included in most multivitamins but has been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer. However, food sources of folate are associated with a decreased risk. Food sources of folate include lentils, spinach, broccoli, great northern beans, asparagus, cantaloupe, and eggs.

  • Reduce fried foods.

Fried foods are cooked at a high temperature and when high heat cooking methods are used, there is a potential risk of carcinogens forming in those foods. The possible carcinogens formed are called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These compounds are formed in meats, particularly if they are grilled.

One study found men who consumed once a week or more of fried foods such as fried       chicken, fried fish and doughnuts did have an increased association of prostate cancer.

  • Obtain adequate zinc.

Several studies have shown the mineral zinc to suppress tumor growth and promote prostate cancer cell death. If a man has either a deficiency or excess of zinc, it could increase risk of prostate cancer.

Choosing sufficient food choices of zinc will ensure an adequate intake to help reduce the possibility of developing prostate cancer. Food sources of zinc include oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, crab, lobster, whole grains, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Doctor’s Orders: Eat These Veggies to Prevent Prostate Cancer