Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers and third leading cause of cancer death in American men. Estimates from the American Cancer Society suggest that about 1 in 7 men will get diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
Prostate is a walnut sized gland found just beneath the bladder in men. It is essential to the male reproductive system, as it secretes prostate fluid, which contains male sperm. Prostate cancer is a condition, where cells in the prostate gland get chronic inflammation and start growing in an uncontrolled way. Excessive amount of free radicals inside the body is the primary cause of oxidative stress and inflammation that lead to prostate cancer.
Risk factors for Prostate Cancer:
Some of the common risk factors that increase chances of getting prostate cancer are:
- Age: The chances of getting prostate cancer rise with age, especially after 50 yrs with an average age of diagnosis is 65 yrs.
- Ethnicity: African-American men, Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to have prostate cancer than Asian and Hispanic/Latino men.
- Geography: It is more common in North America, Europe, Australia and Caribbean islands.
- Family history: It is often found running in families suggesting there may be an inherited or genetic factor.
- Lifestyle factors:
- Diet: A diet high in animal based products especially red meat and high-fat dairy products and low in fruits and vegetables is found to be associated with increased risk of prostate cancer.
- Obesity: Often obese and overweight men are found to have a higher risk of getting more aggressive or advanced prostate cancer and associated mortality.
- Smoking: Smoking is found linked to an increased risk of death due to prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Prevention:
Though, many of the above risk factors (age, ethnicity and family history) can’t be controlled but changing the lifestyle factors (diet, physical activity and body weight) can prevent or delay the onset of disease. Besides lowering risk of prostate cancer development and progression, it can help men with prostate cancer live longer and healthier lives.
Some evidence suggest that choosing a healthy diet, which is low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables, contributes to a lower risk of prostate cancer.
- Limit intake of pro-inflammatory foods such as i) animal (saturated) fats found in meat, lard, dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream); ii) trans “bad fats” found in highly processed, packaged foods and margarine; and iii) high-glycemic carbs found in refined starchy foods (white bread and white rice), sugary candy and soda.
- Choose anti-inflammatory foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Include an additional serving of these colourful foods in your each meal and make them as your preferred snacks.
- Choose plant-based (unsaturated) fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and nut or seed butter, coconut oil and avocados.
- Add omega-3 fatty acids rich foods such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring); flaxseeds and walnuts in your diet, these “good fats” are associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer.
- Tomatoes, raspberries, goji berries, watermelon, red pepper, and grapefruits are rich in lycopene that promotes prostate health.
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower); leafy greens (collard greens, spinach, kale); garlic and scallions; soybeans and soy products (tofu); reishi mushroom; pomegranate; red wine and red grapes; herbs such as oregano, ginger, rosemary, turmeric and cinnamon; and green tea are also rich in phytochemicals that act as antioxidants and support detoxification process, which is essential to maintain a healthy prostate.
- Another way to promote optimal detoxification in your body is to improve your gut health by eating probiotics (fermented) and prebiotics (fiber rich) foods.
Physically Active Lifestyle:
Health of the prostate gland is dependent on the amount of oxygen supplied by fresh blood circulating in this region. However, longer sitting time and sedentary lifestyle hinder this process and lead to congestion in this area. Evidence suggests that men who exercise have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. So, besides exercising for 30 minutes at least 3-4 days in a week, choose a more active lifestyle throughout the day by playing, walking, choosing stairs instead of elevator, cycling, getting down from public transport one stop earlier or parking your car a little farther away and taking a walk to office or home.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight:
Body Mass Index (BMI) is an index that checks your weight status i.e. healthy (25), overweight (25-30), obese (>30), according to your height. To maintain a healthy weight or lose excess weight eat fewer calories by choosing a low fat, healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains; start exercising; and lead a physical active lifestyle throughout the day.
Avoid unhealthy habits:
Stay away from smoking at all cost and limit alcohol intake too. Even a glass or two of red wine daily is sufficient for the benefits as drinking too much can neutralize the beneficial effects.
Manage Stress and Anxiety:
Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation helps in building mind-body connection, which calms down the nervous system and reduces stress hormones. This helps in lowering inflammation and cancerous cell growth inside the body. Good sleep also helps in this process and is essential for maintaining optimal health of prostrate.
Improve Vitamin D Levels:
A deficiency of vitamin D increases prostatic growth, so ensuring 20-30 minutes direct sun exposure daily or consuming a vitamin D3 supplement (2000-5000 iu/day), if you are unable to get adequate sun exposure; are good options to maintain optimal vitamin D levels for good prostate health.
Reduce environmental toxins:
Choosing natural cleaning and personal care products will help you avoid harmful chemicals that increase chances of oxidative damage and inflammation inside your body.
Also, watch your calcium intake from supplements, as doses more than 1,500 mg of calcium a day were found associated with increased risk of prostate cancer. Also, over-supplementation with multivitamin-mineral can be harmful, probably due to iron excess, which can become a free radical in the body and cause abnormal cell growth.
On that note, donating blood is probably a win-win situation for all men. Giving blood helps the recipient, obviously. However, giving blood helps to drain off excess iron and blood, which regenerates the body. Human are built to bleed. Our ancestors were constantly bleeding from animal attacks, accidents, war, and more. Humans adapted to become efficient producers of blood, which is great if you need it, but disastrous if the blood becomes too thick (viscosity) and may generate strokes or even cancer from excessive iron. Studies show that regular blood donors lower their risk of stroke by 40-70% and probably lower risk of cancers also.