If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you may wonder what you can do to increase your odds of beating the disease. Understandably, you want to do everything you can. And while not everything is in your power, one important factor that is within your control is what you eat.
Research shows that eating certain foods can help you to reduce your risk factors for aggressive prostate tumors. Making changes such as including healthy oils, eating more walnuts and increasing the amount of cruciferous vegetables you eat can help you make a big difference in fighting prostate cancer, as well as improving other aspects of your health. Many men who have prostate cancer actually die with prostate cancer, as opposed to because of prostate cancer. Therefore, it is also important to protect your heart and general health as well.
Changing your diet when you have prostate cancer and continuing to live a healthy lifestyle after you are done with treatment are important for lowering your risk factors and maintaining good health. Even if you have completed treatment for prostate cancer, you should be aware that 30 percent of prostate cancers return. What you eat during and after treatment can have a major impact on your prostate and general health.
Whether you have early- or advanced-stage prostate cancer, eating fats from avocados, seeds, nuts and virgin olive oil may help slow your cancer’s progression and help you live longer. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, eating heart-healthy food can help you reduce your risk of developing fatal tumors. Men in the study who ate a serving of nuts each day reduced their risk of dying from prostate cancer by 18 percent. And men who ate an additional serving of oil-based dressing every day were 29 percent less likely to die from their prostate cancer.
It is important to note that a little goes a long way. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity are important for both your prostate and your heart health.
Several studies have found that walnuts, which are rich in phytochemicals with antioxidant properties, help prevent prostate tumors from forming, reduce tumor size and slow tumor growth. One study that involved mice with prostate cancer found that when mice ate the equivalent of 3 ounces of walnuts per day, they had a 50 percent reduction in tumor size and their tumor growth slowed by 30 percent.
Another study showing the benefits of walnuts for prostate cancer was done at the University of Texas. The researchers injected mice with human prostate cells. Once tumors began to grow, 19 mice were fed the human equivalent of 2 ounces of walnuts every day. A control group of 32 mice did not eat walnuts. Only three mice in the walnut group developed tumors, and those tumors were smaller than the tumors that grew in the control group. In the control group 14 of the 32 mice had tumors. Even though these studies involve mice, they show that walnuts might pack quite a bit of power that will hopefully result in further research in men.
Eating cruciferous vegetables several times per week is a smart dietary move. These vegetables can help fight prostate cancer. And they have other benefits as well, helping to fight inflammation and prevent bladder, colorectal and other types of cancers.
Cruciferous vegetables include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, watercress and wasabi. There are several components of these vegetables that break down when you consume them, one of which is indole-3-carbinol (I3C) — a precursor to the phytonutrient diiindolymethane (DIM).
The body releases DIM when gastric acid acts on I3C. Indoles and isothiocyanates provide many health benefits for men. They may help protect cells from DNA damage and can inhibit the development of cancer. They also inhibit tumor-cell migration, which is necessary for metastasis, and have an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect. There are additional prostate health benefits to DIM such as promoting natural hormones levels, fighting inflammation, and helping to support normal prostate function and urinary health.
Wayne State University School of Medicine researchers found that I3C and DIM have the ability to affect prostate cancer cells in multiple ways. They reviewed experiments in which they found that I3C and DIM inhibited prostate cancer cell growth and promoted prostate cancer cell death. The researchers found that both I3C and DIM regulate several genes that play a critical role in controlling cell cycle, cell proliferation, signal transduction and other cellular processes. They concluded there is “ample evidence for the benefit of I3C and DIM for the prevention and the treatment of prostate cancer.”
Other cancer-fighting foods
Heart-healthy oils, nuts and cruciferous vegetables are not alone in helping to promote prostate health and helping your body fight prostate cancer. The Prostate Diet for prostate cancer provides a guideline for healthy eating to protect your prostate and reduce your risks for prostate cancer and other prostate conditions. Knowing what not to eat is important, too. An anti-inflammatory diet that supports prostate health and a strong immune system does not include foods like red meat, sugar, saturated fat and processed foods.
Check out other natural cancer-killing foods like green tea, pomegranate, beans, garlic, berries, cayenne, vitamin D, lycopene (found in tomatoes), Asian mushrooms and turmeric. Add these nutritious foods into your regular diet, and consider taking supplements to help support your immunity and prostate health. Following all these dietary changes can help put you in the best position to battle prostate cancer and hopefully improve your longevity.
Reference for changing your diet during cancer treatment:
Davis, Paul A., et al. A high-fat diet containing whole walnuts (Juglans regia) reduces tumour size and growth along with plasma insulin-like growth factor 1 in the transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate model. British Journal of Nutrition Volume 108 / Issue 10 / November 2012, pp 1764-1772.
DIM and Prostate Health. All About DIM.
Reiter, Russel, J. A walnut-Enriched Diet reduces the Growth of LNCaP Human Prostate Cancer Xenografts in Nude Mice. Cancer Investigation. July 2013. Vol 31 no. 6, 365-373.
Rishman, Erin L., et al. Fat Intake After Diagnosis and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer and All-Cause Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;():1-8. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6536.
Sarkar FH, Li Y. Indole-3-carbinol and prostate cancer. J Nutr 2004 Dec; 134(12 Supp): 3493S-98S