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
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.