How to prevent it
While prostate cancer is to a certain extent a complicated illness, it seems that having a healthy diet and lifestyle may possibly reduce the occurrence of prostate cancer by slowing down its progression and helping with some secondary effects from treatment.
We know that men in Western countries, like those in North America, are more prone to developing prostate cancer than men from Eastern Asian countries like China and Japan. As well, Asian men who have moved to North America run the same risks as native-born North Americans after at least one generation.
This may be because of the Western diet, which has less fruit, vegetables and fish, and more meat, dairy products, sugar, fat and processed foods.
In fact, nutrition is one of the risk factors that is most often considered in the realm of prostate cancer.
Understanding the role of nutrition
There are many studies that are currently trying to better understand the connection between diet and prostate cancer.
Nutrition plays an important role in the occurrence and progression of prostate cancer, despite the fact that the information discussed is only speculative and still under investigation. By eating a healthy diet, it is possible to achieve real results both in preventing prostate cancer and in slowing down its progression.
We still don’t know if specific foods raise your risk of developing prostate cancer. However, some studies suggest that certain foods can raise your risk if you eat a lot of them.
Limiting certain foods
Some studies have shown that eating or drinking a lot of dairy products, such as milk, yogurt or cheese, could raise your risk of prostate cancer.
In fact, eating dairy products rich in calcium has been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, as well as with lowering the blood levels of vitamin D. The excess of calcium, along with a deficiency of vitamin D, increase the risk.
More research is needed to determine if eating less calcium or fewer dairy products can help to prevent prostate cancer. Until we know more, you may want to try to reduce your consumption of these foods.
Nonetheless, you need calcium – about 800 mg a day – in order to keep your bones in good health. You can get 800 mg of calcium by drinking a 200 ml glass of milk, eating 30 g of cheese and a small yogurt.
Processed Meat and Red Meat
Studies have shown that eating red and processed meat, like sausages, hamburgers, bacon, deli meats and ham, can raise your risk of developing prostate cancer.
It is thought that a diet rich in animal fats can cause an excess of pollutants (free radicals) in your body, which attack tissues and cells, thereby speeding up their aging and even their destruction.
If you wish to reduce the amount of red and processed meat that you eat, you can try to eat more chicken, turkey or fish instead.
In addition, there are many studies focusing on the link between diet and prostate cancer risk which have shown that a diet with high amounts of fat (either saturated or trans) can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
To learn more about the importance of dietary choices and nutritional supplements for prostate cancer prevention, consult our section on nutrition.
Some people take supplements to try to lower their risk of cancer, but studies suggest that some supplements can actually raise your risk of developing cancer.
The best way to get all of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body needs is to eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. If you take supplements, do not take more than the recommended daily dose.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Healthy weights are not the same for everyone. This is why we invite you to consult your doctor to find out what is the ideal weight for you. Having a healthy weight does not mean being lean as a model. But you may be surprised to learn how many “unnecessary” pounds make you an obese person or just overweight, from a medical point of view.
Some recent studies show that men who are overweight or obese are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer that is advanced or that has already spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body.
Studies show that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the personal risk of cancer.
What is a healthy diet
Eating well starts with consuming a variety of daily foods to get all the nutrients essential to good health. It is above all a question of balance, moderation and variety. Healthy eating – including lots of vegetables and fruits, lots of fiber, low-fat protein from fish, poultry and lean meats, as well as low fat and salt – will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Following the Canadian food guide can help:
- Meet your vitamin, mineral and other nutrient needs
- Reduce your risk for heart disease
- Contribute to your overall health and energy
This guide shows how many servings of each food group men ages 51+ should aim to consume per day.
Vegetables and fruits (7-9 servings)
- Aim to eat at least one dark green and ne orange vegetable per day. Romaine lettuce, spinach and broccoli are examples of dark green vegetables. Sweet potatoes, carrots and squash work well as orange vegetables.
- Look for fruit and vegetables that are steamed, baked or stir-fried – and avoid those that are deep fried. It’s best to choose vegetables and fruits that are not prepared with lots of added salt, fat or sugar
- Choose whole fruits and vegetables more often than juice, to meet your daily servings goal.
Grain products (7 servings)
- Whole-grain products should make up at least half of your daily grain product servings. Look for whole grain options such as barley, brown rice, quinoa, oats, wild rice, whole grain breads and pasta.
- Compare nutrition facts – and choose grain products lower in salt, fat and sugar.
Milk and alternatives (3 servings)
- Choose lower fat milk products. For products made from milk (such as cheeses or yogurts), compare nutrition facts and select options that are lower in fat
- Drink milk every day. You should aim to drink 2 cups of milk per day to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Choose either skim, 1% or 2% milks, or fortified soy beverages
Meat and alternatives (3 servings)
- Look for lean meats and alternatives that have limited added salt and fat. Remove skin on poultry and visible fat on meat. Bake, roast or poach prepared meats and alternatives. When choosing pre-packaged meats, compare nutrition facts and choose those with less sodium and fat
- Eat at least 2 servings of fish per week. For example, you could choose to eat herring, char, mackerel, salmon or trout
What kind of exercise should I be doing
Whatever kind you like, just so long as you’re exercising! Don’t be intimidated by the idea of “physical activity”. Working out at the gym or devoting time to a sport is great, but there are lots of other ways to stay active.
Aim for 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week, such as brisk walking, bicycling or pushing a lawn mower. As an example, it has been shown that walking for 20 minutes a day, the equivalent of 1.6 km, reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 30%.
The exercise should be energetic enough without being too rigorous. What’s important is increasing your heart rate. Here are tips for staying active.
Avoid Exposure to Pesticides
It is important to avoid or reduce prolonged exposure to pesticides. Avoid the cosmetic use of pesticides. If you must use pesticides, try to use less. Follow your province’s the health and work safety requirements, like staying away from areas treated with pesticides for a certain amount of time. Follow the instructions on the product label to learn how to use pesticides safely. Use the recommended equipment and clothing, like gloves or a mask, while you use pesticides.
Follow the Health and Work Safety Requirements
Whenever possible, avoid exposing yourself to cadmium. Follow all of the safety rules if you work in the fusion industry, or in battery or rubber manufacturing.