September is prostate cancer awareness month. What you eat can either protect you from the disease or promote it. Below are some foods to include and those to shy away from in preventing prostate cancer.
- Flaxseed. These tiny brown seeds are quite powerful. Flaxseeds contain lignans, alpha-linolenic acid and estrogen-like compounds that may protect the prostate. Aim for about one tablespoon of flaxseed per day, which can be added to oatmeal, smoothies or salad. Men should AVOID flaxseed oil in pill form, which has been linked with risk for prostate cancer.
- Tomatoes & lycopene. A 1990’s study from Harvard found that men that consumed 10 or more servings of foods containing tomatoes (like spaghetti sauce) had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer. A European study found similar results in men with high levels of blood lycopene.
- Green tea. Green tea is a great source of antioxidants, which may be protective of prostate cancer. In a large Japanese study, researchers discovered that men who drank 5 or more cups of green tea per day had a 50% lower risk of advanced prostate cancer than men that did not.
- Soy. A lower risk of prostate cancer was found in men who consumed more soy foods that were tracked in a large Hawaiian study. Try edamame or soynuts for a snack over chips or candy.
- Vegetables. Eating more vegetables is good advice to prevent many illnesses, and as it turns out, this is likely good for your prostate, too. In a study that tracked 29,000 men over four years, those that ate more vegetables had a lower risk of prostate cancer. Aim for 4 or more servings per day.
- Selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that works closely with vitamin E. While it was once thought that selenium supplements may help prevent prostate cancer, a more recent study found that those taking supplements had no lower risk of prostate cancer than those taking a placebo. And, those who took selenium had almost a 3 x greater risk of developing diabetes.
- Vitamin E. While some studies suggest that gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E may protect the prostate, most contain the alpha-tocopherol form. In a study where men were given very high doses of vitamin E, vitamin E takers had a 13% higher risk for prostate cancer.
- Calcium & Dairy. We know that calcium & dairy products help prevent bone loss and aid in blood pressure reduction. Unfortunately, they are not too friendly to the prostate. Milk increases levels of a chemical called insulin-like growth factor, and this chemical is linked with aggressive prostate cancer. Limit dairy to 2-3 servings/day and avoid calcium-fortified foods and well as calcium supplements.
- Meat. Higher intakes of meat are associated with heart disease and may also be a predictor for prostate cancer. A study of over 29,000 men found that those consuming more than 2 ½ ounces of well-done meat per week had a 40% higher risk for prostate cancer than those not eating very well-done meat.
- Zinc. Don’t count on zinc supplements helping your prostate- in fact, large doses (80 mg) increased risk for urinary tract infections, kidney stones and kidney failure in some men. Other studies have found increased risk for advanced prostate cancer with supplements as well.