Part 2 – Nutrients to Fight Prostate Cancer:
In ‘Diet and Prostate Cancer Part 1‘, we covered the food choices and weight maintenance as important risk factors for prostate cancer. Today, we are looking at how individual nutrients affect prostate cancer growth.
The following nutrients all play a role in helping regulate the body’s functions. Nutrients can be consumed in food form or in supplement form. For the most part, it’s best to get these nutrients from food choices.
- Fat: For reduced cancer risk, choose healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats. These are found in nuts, oils, and fish. Limit intake of saturated and trans fats.
- Vitamin D: It is thought that low levels of vitamin D increases risk for cancer. It is most effective to get vitamin D from supplements. It is not recommended to take more than 2,000 IU per day.
- Vitamin E: Research suggests decreased risk of prostate cancer from Vitamin E supplementation, but mostly for men who are smokers.
- Beta Carotene: If your blood levels are low in beta carotene, supplementation can reduce cancer risk. If blood levels are normal, it’s best to get beta carotene from foods such as pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots and spinach.
- Calcium: Some research suggests too much calcium can increase prostate cancer risk. The risk is from consuming supplemental form of calcium. However, some men will need to take calcium to delay osteoporosis depending on medical history.
- Selenium: One study showed selenium reduced risk of prostate cancer, but benefits may be different depending on PSA levels.
- Zinc: One study suggested high doses of zinc increases risk of prostate cancer.
Quality not Quantity:
I know that this is a difficult concept for Americans! We think that if something is good, then more is better. Always remember that when you make choices with foods and beverages that you put into your body, it’s the quality of the choice, not the quantity. Every small step makes a difference!
When it comes to nutrients, a high dose supplement isn’t necessarily better than a food that contains a smaller amount of the nutrient. Foods will also contain other nutrients and phytochemicals that can work synergistically with other nutrients to provide even more benefit.
Lifestyle Choices are a Complement:
Diet and lifestyle can play an important role in slowing the growth of prostate cancer, but it is a complement to other screenings and treatments that may be recommended.
It’s important to talk with your doctor about early detection if you haven’t been diagnosed. If you have been diagnosed, diet and lifestyle help to make treatments such as surgery, radiation or drug therapy more effective and can improve quality of life during treatment.
[Reference: Nutrition and Prostate Cancer by Peter Gann and Edward Giovannucci]