Doctor explains four foods to eat to prevent prostate cancer – as well as one to avoid

By Staff 9 Min Read

Prostate cancer is a major cause of death and disability, accounting for 15 per cent of all male cancers. In the UK, it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men

A doctor has revealed the four foods that can help prevent prostate cancer – and one that should be avoided.

The expert warns that what we consume can significantly influence our risk of developing this potentially deadly disease. Prostate cancer cases are predicted to double between 2020 and 2040, with global fatalities reaching a staggering 700,000 per annum. Prostate Cancer UK, a leading charity, reports that each year in Britain, there are approximately 13,000 deaths and 50,000 new cases of the disease.

If current incidence rates persist, researchers from the Lancet Commission on Prostate Cancer estimate that by 2040, annual cases in Britain could skyrocket to 75,066. Age is a major risk factor for prostate cancer, with those over 50 being particularly susceptible. A family history of the disease also increases one’s chances.

However, lifestyle modifications and public health interventions can make a significant difference. The disease has recently been in the spotlight following the death of OJ Simpson from prostate cancer, reports Bristol Live. When it comes to diet, there are certain foods that experts recommend avoiding, as well as many that should be included, according to a report in The Times.

Dr William Li, a Harvard-trained medical doctor and vascular biologist, advises people to steer clear of bacon and barbecued meat. This is due to the increased risk of prostate cancer associated with saturated fats. Dr Li warned that these fats are: “primarily coming from red meats, particularly meats that have been charred. The char that we see in barbecued meats, well-done meats, contains a chemical called a heterocyclic amine, HCA.” These are the by-products of cooking meat well-done. “If we eat a roast that ends up having a char, if you grill a steak that winds up having a nice char to it, those are HCAs, they are carcinogens,” he adds.

The World Health Organisation recognises processed meats as a carcinogen as well, and overconsumption has cancer-promoting risks. “These are clearly associated with increased risks of prostate cancer,” he says. “We’re only just now having a societal epiphany that we should cut down on the amount of meat we eat and switch to a more whole foods plant-forward diet.”

However, there are some food groups people should eat more of, with nuts and soya being of benefit. A study of 47,000 men found that those who consumed a third of a cup of nuts five times a week had a 34 per cent lower risk of mortality from prostate cancer. Dr Li said: “We know that soya lowers the risk of breast cancer in women – but there’s data now that consuming soya actually lowers the risk of prostate cancer as well.”

That’s because soya includes bioactives that tackle the microenvironment of cancer, he says. Studies from China on tofu and soy milk found “consuming of these reduced risk of prostate cancer a startlingly 40-70 per cent”. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, could help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, a doctor has revealed.

“A hundred grams a day of citrus fruit [a small orange] has been associated with a decreased prostate cancer risk by 12 per cent,” says Dr Li, citing a study of 42,000 men in Europe, followed for 14 years. Another study of 29,000 men showed that consuming broccoli – “just one cup a week,” Li says – was associated with decreased risk of the spread of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is a major cause of death and disability, accounting for 15% of all male cancers. In the UK it is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men and the most common form of male cancer in more than half of the world’s countries.

Nick James, lead author of the commission, Professor of prostate and bladder cancer research at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “As more and more men around the world live to middle and old age, there will be an inevitable rise in the number of prostate cancer cases. We know this surge in cases is coming, so we need to start planning and take action now.

“Evidence-based interventions, such as improved early detection and education programmes, will help to save lives and prevent ill health from prostate cancer in the years to come. This is especially true for low- and middle-income countries which will bear the overwhelming brunt of future cases.”

In HICs, screening for prostate cancer often involves the PSA test, a blood test that measures levels of a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). The current approach to prostate cancer diagnosis in the UK and many other HICs relies on “]informed choice” PSA testing. Men aged 50 or over with no symptoms can request a PSA test from their doctor after a discussion of the risks and benefits.

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