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There is growing evidence that diet can play a crucial role in the development and probably also in the progression and behaviour of some cancers among which prostate cancer is certainly a prime candidate.  What we do know is that some groups of men are much more likely to get prostate cancer than others and the risks are modified by diet.  

For example, Chinese and Japanese men seem to have one of the lowest risks of prostate cancer but if they move to a Western lifestyle in the United States of America their risk of developing the disease goes up.  It is also known that Japanese men who consume a lot of Soya protein have a lower risk of developing the disease than those who do not.

For patients who are concerned about or who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I usually recommend a number of dietary strategies which, while not proven to be of specific benefit in the clinical situation have certainly been shown to have activity in both our research labs and others.  There is also mounting evidence for their place in the overall development of the disease and thus strategy to supplement the diet seems sensible.  The first rule is that one shouldn’t change one’s life so dramatically that one feels depressed by the new lifestyle !  Therefore it is important to approach everything in moderation. 

Men who have a high fat and particularly a high animal fat diet do seem to have increased risk of prostate enlargement and tumours.  In laboratory animals which are fed a higher fat diet, prostate cancers grow at a more rapid rate.  I therefore recommend that men should try to cut out where possible red meat fats and substitute lean poultry, game or fish where appropriate. 

As regards beneficial foods, green and yellow vegetables (particularly those of the brassica family: cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) seem beneficial. 

From the point of view of supplementation there is no question that the tomato pigment Lycopene may have an effect in delaying the progression of prostate cancer at least in the very short term and it does seem to be a general protective element in whether men get the disease or not.  I therefore recommend a Lycopene supplement in the dose of between 5 to 15mg per day.  Lycopene may not be fully absorbed from the gut in the absence of certain vitamins and it is therefore appropriate to take a multivitamin supplement with the antioxidant vitamin C included in it. 

As mentioned above, Soya seems to have a beneficial effect probably through the chemicals Dadzein and Genestein, so a Soya supplement or one Soya protein meal per week will do no harm and may do a lot of good.  Quercitin (a chemical found in onions) may also have some protective effect: simply cooking with onions will give good amounts of this chemical

Lastly the trace elements zinc and selenium are very important for prostate metabolism ; there has been evidence that men who are deficient in zinc may have an increased risk of prostate cancer and certainly there is also evidence that selenium deficiency may also increase the risk of the disease and that selenium supplementation may reduce the risk, but recent studies have suggested no benefit in randomised studies.

To summarise, men who are concerned about their prostate health would do well to follow a diet rich in vegetables and low in animal fat with not too much alcohol.  A supplement of Lycopene as well as a Soya supplement make sense and these can be complimented by taking a general antioxidant vitamin supplement and making sure the diet is not deficient in zinc or selenium.

All of the supplements mentioned above can be obtained from any reputable health food shop although it is still the case that the Lycopene may need to be ordered.



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