Researchers from Canada have found that having a diet of red meat, organ meats, soft drink and bottled water increased the risk of getting prostate cancer. They compared the diets of 80 men with prostate cancer, and 334 healthy men, and the diet just described more than doubled the risk of developing prostate cancer.
So what prostate diet can reduce the risk of prostate cancer? Swedish researchers examined the diet of 1499 men with prostate cancer and 1130 men who were healthy, and they published their findings in the Cancer Causes and Control journal. They found that eating foods rich in phytoestrogens decreased the risk of prostate cancer.
Phytoestrogens are plant molecules that have a weak estrogenic effect. They are made converted in the intestines from plant precursors by bacteria as they digest food. They are taken up by the same parts of the body that process the hormone estrogen.
Interestingly, one of the treatments for prostate cancer by doctors involves using estrogens to reduce the level of testosterone in men with advanced prostate cancer. It does this indirectly, through its effect on the hypothalamus, as less luteinizing hormone releasing hormone is produced by the hypothalamus. This means not as much luteinizing hormone is released by the body, which suppresses the production of testosterone.
High doses of estrogens for men can lead to cardiovascular complications. But phytoestrogens obtained from diet, in less quantities than a drug, and with a milder effect to start with, should not pose a problem. And researchers don't yet know what exactly causes phytoestrogens to have such a protective effect, whether it is similar to that of the estrogen treatment for advanced prostate cancers. And they don't know which phytoestrogens are the most active.
So what phytoestrogen foods could you include in a diet for a healthy prostate? Soy beans and nuts are a good source. Soy and nuts contain a type of phytoestrogen called isoflavones, whilst berries and seeds contain lignans. Foods could include peanuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and berries.
The only possible concerns with soy is that a study in mice found that male mice that had a type of heart disease that people also have, suffered heart failure when fed a soy based diet. Whether this extrapolates to the human population is yet to be established. But it may be wise for those me who have this particular genetic heart condition, dilated cardiomyopathy, to be cautious about soy products in their diet.
But for other men, soy products could be good news. A meta analysis, which is a study of related studies, published in the International Journal of Cancer, found that diets high in soy lowered men's risk of prostate cancer by 30%.
Another important mineral to consider for men is zinc. Zinc is used by men's bodies to make some of the male hormones, and for general prostate health. A deficiency in zinc can lead to problems with the testicles, the prostate, and the health of the sperm. Foods that are great sources of zinc include seeds like pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower; nuts like almonds, brazil, cashews and walnuts; and foods like lettuce, oats and onions. Raw onion is particularly suggested by Paul Bedson, a natural therapist. He also suggests vegetable juice made of equal parts of beetroot, carrot, and cucumber in cases where the prostate gland is enlarged. Cranberry juice, a cup drunk three times a day, is also recommended in this case.