Here’s to the Men & Movember

If you have a male loved one in your life who is trying to raise awareness of men`s health issues, you may have noticed some physical changes to his appearance this month. Yes, the bristling, whiskered, hirsute look of Movember is now coming to a close. Time to sharpen the razors. But before we say goodbye to our fine fuzzy friends, I wanted to support the men by providing some nutritional advice on how best to reduce one`s risk of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect Canadian men. One in seven men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. The average age of patients at the time of diagnosis is 70. However, men over the age of 50 years may wish to talk to their doctors about the potential benefits and risks of early detection of prostate cancer using the PSA test and the digital rectal examination test, particularly if there is a family history of either prostate or breast cancer.

The growth of cells in the prostate, as with the breast, is stimulated by hormones. The breast cells are stimulated by estrogen; whereas, the prostate cells are stimulated by testosterone. As sex hormone levels are affected by diet, what you eat may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Diet to Prevent Prostate Cancer

Many studies have shown links between diet and prostate cancer. What has become clear is that there are key causative dietary factors in the development of the disease while high intakes of other foods are associated with a reduced risk.

Snap Shot:

Foods & Percentage of Increased Risk Foods & Percentage of Reduced Risk
Hamburgers: 79% increased risk Fish: 44% reduced risk
High glycemic-index foods: 64% Tomatoes: 35%
Processed meat: 57% Green leafy vegetables: 34%
Grilled red meat: 63% Natural soy products: 30%
Well-done red meat: 52% Vegetables high in carotenoids: 29%
Milk: 111% Green Tea, selenium & vitamin E: various percentages

 

Fish & Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The benefits of omega 3 fatty acids have been espoused previously on this blog (http://nutritionsavvy.ca/omega-3s-from-pregnancy-to-pensions/). Here we have another benefit in that the risk of prostate cancer is reduced with a higher intake of fish rich in the omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Fantastic sources of omega 3s include: wild salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel, herring, and sablefish.

Tomatoes and Lycopene

Lycopene is an anti-oxidant that gives certain plants, like tomatoes and pink grapefruit, their colour. It is a powerful scavenger of oxygen free radicals and studies have shown that men with the greatest amounts of lycopene in their diet had a significantly reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to those eating the least.

The content of lycopene varies from tomato to tomato. Lycopene content of tomato paste or juice is five times greater than raw tomatoes and is more readily absorbed. This is due to the antioxidant being released from the plant cell wall.  When choosing tomatoes reach for the reddest variety and also include apricots, papaya, pink grapefruit, guava and watermelon in the diet to help contribute to your daily dietary intake.

Soy Strikes Again

Once again the isoflavones of soy exert significant protection against prostate cancer, according to numerous studies, by inhibiting the growth of prostate cancer cells. The high intake of soy may be one factor that accounts for the low rate of prostate cancer in Japan and China. Some rich sources of soy isoflavones include:

  • Roasted soy nuts
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Soy milk
  • Edamame

 And Those to Avoid (or limit)….

Processed meat, hamburger and other red meat, particularly charred or well done red meat have been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. This is partially due to the formation of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines on charred meat. Limiting consumption of red meat would be a wise choice.  However, if you choose to indulge in a steak, choose leaner cuts and marinade it first in citrus or vinegar along with ginger, rosemary and turmeric to reduce formation of carcinogens.  Try not to overcook it and definitely do not char.

You will see from the table that the increased risk for developing prostate cancer in those that consume milk is significant.  The mechanisms behind this association are still in question. While the studies continue and while we wait for a definitive answer as to why or what it is in milk and dairy that increases the risk of prostate cancer, it may be prudent to start limiting intake. Substituting soy milk or almond milk for cow’s milk would be a positive step in protecting yourself against this disease.

 

Roasted Tomato Soup 

Serves: 8

Ingredients

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 cup extra virigin olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

5 garlic cloves, crushed

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes with juice

1 cup fresh basil leaves

4 cups vegetable stock or water

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 40- 45 minutes.

In a large pot over medium heat, add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions, garlic  and red pepper flakes until onions are soft, about 8- 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, and  vegetable  stock. Pour the oven-roasted tomatoes and pan juices into the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 35 minutes.  Let cool somewhat and then blend on high (be careful of blending hot liquids!). Can be served hot or cold.

Resources:

Hori S, Butler E, McLoughilin J. Prostate cancer and diet: food for thought? BJU International 2011 May; 107(9):1348-1359

Jacobsen BK, Knutsen SF, Fraser GE., Does high soy milk intake reduce prostate cancer incidence? The Adventist Health Study (United States) Cancer Causes Control. 1998 Dec;9(6):553-7.

Kesse E, Bertrais S, Astorg P, Jaouen A, Arnault N, Galan P, Hercberg S,  Dairy products, calcium and phosphorus intake, and the risk of prostate cancer: results of the French prospective SU.VI.MAX The British journal of nutrition 2006 Mar: Vol 95 Issue 3: 539-45. 

Lampe JW. Dairy products and cancer. Am Coll Nutr 2011 Oct;30(5 Suppl 1):464S-70S.

Norrish AE, Skeaff CM, Arribas GL, Sharpe SJ, Jackson RT. Prostate cancer risk and consumption of fish oils: a dietary biomarker-based case-control study. Br J Cancer. 1999 Dec;81(7):1238-42.

Raimondi S, et al., Diet and prostate cancer risk with specific focus on dairy products and dietary calcium: a case-control study. Prostate. 2010 Jul 1:70(10): 1054-65

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