PREVENTING PROSTATE CANCER
We know that a man’s risk of prostate cancer is determined, in part, by things he can’t change: age, race and family history. Prostate cancer is most common in older men, in men with a family history of prostate cancer, and in black men. But cancer risk is also clearly connected to things you can change, which is what I’ll focus on here. The steps I outline below may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer, and they may reduce your risk of other cancers and heart disease, too!
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a lower risk of various kinds of cancer. Foods high in folate, a B vitamin found in spinach, asparagus and some beans, may be helpful. (Note, however, that taking supplements of a related compound – folic acid – have actually been shown to increase risk of prostate cancer.)
- Choose healthy foods and eat in moderation. If you read my recent blog about dietary fat, you know I don’t believe in fad diets. The main thing is to avoid a lot of highly processed, high-carb, high-sugar food. Skip the junk food, soft drinks and candy. Go for fresh, natural, whole grain products. Some foods that seem particularly helpful in preventing prostate cancer are:
- Cold-water fish like salmon and herring
- Soy products and other beans
- Green tea
- Foods high in vitamin D such as cheese and egg yolks (talk to your doctor to see if a vitamin D supplement is recommended)
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Generally, this means no more than 2 drinks a day for men. Studies show that regular heavy drinking increases the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
- Exercise. Do some form of aerobic exercise for 30 minutes or more a day.
Now, here are some things that have NOT been shown to reduce prostate cancer risk and should be avoided because they may produce undesirable side effects or actually increase your risk:
- Selenium supplements
- Vitamin E supplements
- Shark cartilage
- Multivitamin supplements
- Lycopene supplements