Natural ways to significantly reduce your risk
Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy among men in the US—in 2009, there were 192,280 new cases. In men over age 75, it is the most common cause of death due to cancer.
What all men need to know: You can’t eliminate your risk for prostate cancer entirely, but men of any age can significantly reduce it with simple, natural approaches.
Prostate cancer prevention is especially smart for men who are at increased risk for the disease due to such factors as age (men age 65 or older account for 70% of cases) and/or family history (having a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles your own risk).
A little-known possible risk factor: Research is still inconclusive, but men whose mothers have had breast cancer also may be at increased risk for prostate cancer.
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the strategies described in this article are even more crucial. They help make your medical treatment more effective and may keep the malignancy from progressing or returning.
THE POWER OF LIFESTYLE
To give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding prostate cancer, the goal is to create an environment in your body in which malignant prostate cells cannot grow.
Important finding: In a 2005 study of 93 men whose early prostate cancer was treated with “watchful waiting”—no surgery, radiation or chemotherapy as long as the cancer wasn’t growing—roughly half participated in an intensive lifestyle-modification program that included a plant-based diet and exercise while the other half did not. After a year, none of the men in the lifestyle program needed surgery or radiation to treat growth of their cancer, but six in the control group did.
STEP 1: EAT THE RIGHT FOODS
The first component of a prostate cancer prevention plan is to eat a plant-centered Mediterranean-type diet.
Good rule of thumb: Get carbohydrates from whole grains and legumes—both food types are rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants. Avoid products containing white sugar and refined flour. In addition, your diet should include…
Green, leafy vegetables — especially crucifers (such as broccoli, cauliflower and watercress), which contain a chemical (indole-3-carbinol) that has been shown to fight prostate cancer. Aim to eat three to five one-half cup servings daily.
Cooked tomatoes. Tomatoes contain the anticancer carotenoid lycopene. Aim to eat three to five one-half cup servings weekly. Consuming them in tomato sauce is ideal—cooking the tomatoes makes lycopene more easily absorbed by your body. Avoid canned tomatoes, which may contain the harmful chemical bisphenol A (BPA). Choose jarred tomatoes instead. Watermelon and guava also contain lycopene.
No milk. Avoid milk and other dairy products—including non- or low-fat products. In recent years, three studies have linked dairy intake with increased risk for prostate cancer.
Carefully chosen fish. Many experts believe prostate cancer is an inflammatory condition, and omega-3 fatty acids in certain types of fish are natural anti-inflammatories.
Each week, eat about 12 to 18 ounces of smaller fish (such as mackerel, sardines and salmon) rather than large fish (including tuna and sea bass). Use a slow-cook method, such as baking, rather than grilling, in order to avoid carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
If you eat salmon: Choose “wild Alaskan” or “wild Pacific” salmon—it is less likely to contain contaminants, such as PCBs, than farmed salmon.
Caution: Avoid red meat. Some research has linked it to increased risk for prostate cancer. Stick with lean, free-roaming organic chicken and, if you do eat red meat, grass-fed beef.
STEP 2: TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
Research has found that certain supplements also help prevent prostate cancer.* All men should take at least 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily and consult their doctors for advice on adding other supplements (all available at health-food stores)…
Pectasol, a form of modified citrus pectin, has been shown to slow rises in prostate-specific antigen (PSA)—a possible marker for cancerous cells—in men with prostate cancer. Animal studies suggest that pectasol inhibits prostate cancer cell growth. Men with prostate cancer or who are at high risk should take three capsules twice a day (for a total of about 4.8 g daily). Recommended brand: PectaSol-C made by EcoNugenics (EcoNugenics.com).
Vitamin E is believed to have anticancer effects when both forms of the vitamin—alpha tocopheral and gamma tocopheral—are consumed. Take a 400-IU supplement daily with both alpha and gamma tocopheral.
Zyflamend is an extract of 10 different herbs, including green tea leaf, basil and ginger. A natural anti-inflammatory, it has been shown to keep precancerous prostate cells from turning malignant. Take one tablet three times daily.
Fish oil supplements help ensure ample levels of inflammation-fighting omega-3s. Take 4,000 mg to 5,000 mg a day. Caution: If you take blood-thinning medication, consult your doctor before using fish oil.
Indole-3-carbinol, the cancer-fighting chemical found in cruciferous vegetables, is available as a supplement. Take 100 mg daily.
Curcumin, a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, has been shown to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth. The spice turmeric contains curcumin—use it regularly. Or take curcumin as a supplement—200 mg to 250 mg two to three times daily.
STEP 3: EXERCISE AND CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT
Research has shown that prostate cancer patients who exercise have a better quality of life and live longer than those who don’t—perhaps because a fit body burns glucose more efficiently, starving cancer cells of a nutrient they need.
My recommendation: Exercise 30 to 60 minutes five to six days a week. Mix moderate aerobics (such as jogging, swimming or riding an exercise bike) with resistance exercise (free weights and/or machines).
*Check with your doctor before taking these or any supplements. They may interact with prescription medication.