Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. The risk for prostate cancer increases with a brother or father that had/has prostate cancer, with African or Caribbean descent, with being overweight, with an unhealthy diet, and it is more common in men over 50 years of age (1). Below is a compilation of the of the top THREE diet changes that you can start today to decrease your risk for prostate cancer.
1) Decrease your consumption of red, processed, and grilled/barbecued meats
Info: A 2015 study recorded a 11% overall increased risk of prostate cancer and 28% increased risk for advanced prostate cancer in men consuming grilled/barbecued meats (2). The more red, processed, and grilled/barbecued meats that they consumed, the more their risk for prostate cancer increased. Furthermore, men who already had prostate cancer and consumed higher amounts of red and processed meats had a more severe cancer. White meat (chicken, turkey, and fish) was not shown to increase the incidence of prostate cancer. Also interesting is that an almost 2-fold increased incidence of prostate cancer was found in men consuming 10 g/day or more of very well-done meats (3).
Do: Yeah, I know that a BBQ can be one of mans' favourite toys, but think about the consequences on your "other favourite toy". With this in mind, try to drastically limit your consumption of red meat (beef and pork). Consume more fresh and non-processed white meats (chicken and turkey) and fish and avoid prepared and sliced deli meats and pre-packaged meats. Keep your cooking temperatures low when frying and consider baking meats instead of using the BBQ. Keep your BBQ and BBQ tools sparkly clean to avoid burnt parts from previous meals.
2) Decrease dairy consumption
Info: It has been shown that men who ate 2 or more servings of dairy a day (1 serving = 1 cup milk or 2 ounces of cheese) had a 60% increased relative risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those who didn't eat dairy (4). These same researchers determined that every 35 g of dairy protein (4+ cups milk) consumed increases the risk of prostate cancer by 32%.
This information can all be taken with a few precautions. For instance: 1) dairy is often the only source of calcium in a person's diet and therefore the risk for bone fractures and colon cancer should be considered if dairy is to be removed, and 2) if you're looking at the overall risk, it is small (maybe a 6% increase in risk), however, it is consistently popping up in all studies that the risk is there, even if the magnitude of risk is small, and a few strong studies have shown the risk to be great.
Do: If you consume dairy products, do so sparingly. If a glass of milk contains approximately 8 g of dairy protein, then according to the information provided above, it should be safe to consume every now and then. Consider switching dairy products for plant-based alternatives. For example, almond, soy, or coconut milk instead of cow's milk. Keep in mind that if you are in the high risk group for prostate cancer, then you would likely benefit more from elimination of dairy in your diet.
3) Decrease saturated fats in your diet
Info: Studies have shown that both total fat intake and the intake of certain types of fat can increase both the risk for prostate cancer and the severity of the disease. For instance, diets high in the monounsaturated fat called oleic acid (the more predominant fat in olive oil) was found to decrease the occurrence of prostate cancer by 38% compared to diets high in saturated fatty acids (7). Furthermore, there has also been a link made between high saturated fat diets and increased prostate cancer disease severity (8).
Do: Begin cutting down on sources of saturated fats in your diet (cheese, dairy, fatty meats, mayonnaise, salad dressings, burgers, pizza, desserts, store-bought baked goods, butter). Obtain a balance of omega-3s to omega-6s in your diet, which involves eating more good fats (avocado, olive/flax/avocado oil, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts).
These dietary changes, which include limiting red meat (my recommendation is to aim for only 2x/month), cooking meat on low temperatures, avoiding processed meat, diminishing dairy or cutting it out all together, and decreasing saturated fats are inexpensive ways to decrease your risk of prostate cancer.
Although these are fantastic ways to decrease the risk of prostate cancer, they aren't the only strategies. Appropriate screening, avoiding exposure to exogenous hormones (hormones that aren't produced by your body), avoiding or properly treating STIs and prostatitis, balancing hormones, avoiding exposure to pesticides, exercise, moderate consumption of soy, a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and appropriate light exposure at night are other modifiable risk factors that are also within your control.
Questions? Contact me and I'll be happy to help!
3) http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=16357191. A prospective study of meat and meat mutagens and prostate cancer risk.
4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9458087. PMID: 9458087
6) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/101/1/87.long Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies.
7) https://ezproxy.ccnm.edu:2153/pmc/articles/PMC4286914/. PMID: 25573005
8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23575905. PMID: 23575905