Foods and Prostate Cancer

by John & Barbara Connor, M.Ac., L.Ac.

John & I would like to share with you today about how incorporating certain foods and avoiding others may help in lowering the risk of prostate cancer, which is the most common malignancy affecting men in the Western world.

In general, some practical strategies for reducing prostate cancer risk include reducing the intake of alcohol, red meat, saturated fats, and excessive carbohydrates (particularly of sugary drinks) while increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids along with exercise. (Ting et al 2015)

Foods that may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer:

Cruciferous vegetables
Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
Pink grapefruit
Pink guava
Pomegranate juice
Pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil
Red carrots
Sesame seeds
Soy and Green tea

Summaries of studies done on these foods:

Avocado – An acetone extract of avocado containing these carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene) and tocopherols was shown to inhibit the growth of both androgen-dependent (LNCaP) and androgen-independent (PC-3) prostate cancer cell lines in vitro. Incubation of PC-3 cells with the avocado extract led to G(2)/M cell cycle arrest accompanied by an increase in p27 protein expression. (Lu et al 2005)

Blueberries – Our strong pre-clinical data indicate pterostilbene, found in blueberries, as a potent, selective and pharmacologically safe natural product that may be tested in advanced prostate cancer. (Li et al 2013) Differences in cell growth inhibition of LNCaP and DU145 cell lines by blueberry fractions rich in proanthocyanidins indicate that blueberry proanthocyanidins have an effect primarily on androgen-dependant growth of prostate cancer cells. (Schmidt et al 2006)

Broccoli and cauliflower – High intake of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cauliflower, may be associated with reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer, particularly extraprostatic disease. (Kirsh et al 2007)

Cruciferous vegetables – This study was undertaken to investigate the mechanism by which phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a natural compound from cruciferous vegetables, exhibits antitumor effect on prostate cancer cells. (Gong et al 2009)

Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Dietary intake of fish and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 PUFAs) may decrease the risk of prostate cancer development and progression to advanced stage disease. The literature suggests that fish, and particularly long-chain omega-3 PUFAs, may have a more pronounced protective effect on biologically aggressive tumors or on their progression, and less on early steps of carcinogenesis. Overall, results to date support the hypothesis that long-chain omega-3 PUFAs may impact prostate inflammation and carcinogenesis via the COX-2 enzymatic pathway. (Reese et al 2009)

Flaxseeds –This study provides direct evidence that dietary intake of plant lignans via flaxseed supplementation inhibits cancer cell growth and possibly reduces tumor angiogenesis in patients with prostate cancer. (Azrad et al 2013)

Mango – The results of this study demonstrate that lupeol and mango pulp extract is effective in combating testosterone-induced changes in mouse prostate as well as causing apoptosis by modulating cell-growth regulators. (Prasad et al 2008)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – We found that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer progression when measured directly in the prostate tissue. Thus, this initial interim study analysis suggests that prostate tissue ω-3 fatty acids, especially EPA, may be protective against prostate cancer progression in men with low-risk prostate cancer. (Moreel et al 2014)

Pomegranate juice – These results demonstrate that an ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract can inhibit tumor-associated angiogenesis as one of several potential mechanisms for slowing the growth of prostate cancer in chemopreventive applications. (Sartippour et al 2008)

Pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto – From these results, it is suggested that administrations of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil are clinically safe and may be effective as complementary and alternative medicine treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia. The action mechanism of pumpkin seed oil is well known by its inhibition on 5-α-reductase which converts testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Various action mechanisms are suggested for saw palmetto oil, including nuclear estrogen receptor inhibitor , inhibition of cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase pathway  as well as 5-α-reductase inhibition. Recently, epithelial contraction in the prostate transition zone was demonstrated by Marks et al.  (Hong et al 2009)

Sesame seeds – Sesamin, a lipid-soluble lignan, is one of the major constituents of sesame.  these results suggest that the potential ability of sesamin to downregulate the secretion of cytokines and the expression of cell proliferative- and invasive-related gene products induced by LPS was shown to be via the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38-MAPK) and NF-κB signaling pathways, which may be one of the mechanisms of the anticancer activity of this sesamin agent in prostate cancer cells. (Xu et al 2015)

Soy and green tea – The ongoing in vivo studies thus far suggest that combination of foods, such as soy and tea, may inhibit hormone-induced proinflammatory NFκB signals that contribute to prostate cancer development. (Hsu et al 2011)

Tomatoes – may protect against prostate cancer development, possibly through targeting signaling pathways such as nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). (Kolberg et al 2015)

Tomato, watermelon, pink grapefruit, pink guava, red carrot and papaya – Lycopene extracted from tomato and other fruits or plants such as Gac, watermelon, pink grapefruit, pink guava, red carrot and papaya has been shown to be effective in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. (Chen et al 2014)

Mediterranean diet – Diet risk factors (RF) are associated with 35% of cancer mortality and 10-12% of prostate carcinoma (PC) mortality. The main diet RF, implied in the development of PC but with a protective effect, which are considered characteristic of  the Mediterranean diet (MD) are: high daily ingestion of vegetarian products (cereals, legumes, dried and fresh fruits, tubers, vegetables..); olive oil as main lipid source; low intake of animal saturated fat, processed red meat, milk and dairy products; regular consumption of small fish; and low alcohol intake (wine with meals). The MD contains many phytoactive compounds (lycopene, lupeol, quercetin, genistein, carnosol, resveratrol, catechins, vitamins) with PC protective effects. Diet RF have a role on prostatic carcinogenesis.  PC risk is reduced in persons on MD compared with those on Western diet. The preventive effect of the MD is due to the great number and quality of phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that it contains. (Ferris-Tortajada et al 2012)

Summaries of studies showing the benefits of exercise in reducing the risk of prostate cancer as well as having a positive impact on other aspects of health:

Occupational and leisure time physical activity  Both occupational and leisure time physical activity have been observed to be associated with a reduced prostate cancer risk. (Discacciati & Wolk 2014)

Exercise – In a systematic review, men with prostate cancer undergoing ADT, ten studies were included, with exercise interventions involving aerobic and/or resistance training. Exercise training demonstrated benefits in muscular strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, functional task performance, lean body mass, and fatigue, with inconsistent effects observed for adiposity. The impact of exercise on bone health, cardiometabolic risk markers, and quality of life are currently unclear. (Gardner et al 2014)

Resistance exercise – reduces fatigue and improves quality of life and muscular fitness in men with prostate cancer receiving androgen deprivation therapy. This form of exercise can be an important component of supportive care for these patients. (Segal et al 2003)

Summaries of studies on foods that should be avoided that may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer:

Avoid well-cooked and processed red meat – In light of the available evidence, it is appropriate to suggest limiting intake of well-cooked and processed meat. Red meat should also be limited although the studies are often contradictory, lower intake appears to be associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer. (Mandair et al 2014)

Avoid meat that has been grilled, barbecued and fried – It has been speculated that it is not meat consumption per se but, in particular, meat prepared by grilling, barbecuing, and frying that leads to the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines (HCA) that may increase the risk of prostate cancer. For example, a positive association between the intake of 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) and prostate cancer was seen in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, in particular, with advanced disease. HCAs are metabolized in the human body and may eventually form HCA-DNA adducts, which are thought to cause structural damage to DNA. In a group of 268 US men, grilled meat, in particular, red meat, was positively correlated with PhIP-DNA adducts in prostate tumor cells, whereas the correlation with adducts in noncancerous cells was less pronounced. (Leitzmann & Rohrmann 2012)

Avoid saturated fatty acids and linoleic acid – High fat intake (mainly saturated fatty acids and linoleic acid) appears to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. The extent of this association may be difficult to interpret due to the heterogeneity in fat subtypes and grade of prostate cancer severity. (Mandair et al 2014)

Avoid high iron intake as iron overload may increase prostate cancer risk through the stimulation of oxidative stress.  Higher iron intake may be associated with the risk of clinically aggressive prostate cancer. (Choi et al 2008)

Avoid Low-/nonfat milk – A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found no association between the intakes of calcium and Vitamin D and prostate cancer risk, but low-/nonfat milk consumption was moderately associated with higher risk and whole milk consumption was associated with slightly decreased risk of prostate cancer. (Park et al 2007)


Compassionate Acupuncture and Healing Arts, providing craniosacral acupuncture, herbal and nutritional medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Phone number 919-309-7753.


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