There are few words that men dread hearing more than, “You have prostate cancer.” Unfortunately, doctors will deliver that verdict to about 233,000 men this year, and 1 in 7 will hear it at some point during their lifetime.
Many studies over the past few decades have shown a definite link between diet and a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. “A growing number of studies show that improving nutrition along with the addition of special nutrients can dramatically reduce risk,” says nationally recognized neurologist and nutrition expert Dr. Russell Blaylock.
Two new studies just released by Duke University show just how dramatically diet can affect risk. Researchers found that diets rich in complex carbohydrates and lower in protein and fat reduce the risk of prostate cancer 60 to 70 percent, and a diet high in fiber slashes the risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 70 to 80 percent.
Fortunately, even if members of your family have been stricken with the disease, studies have shown that a healthy diet and lifestyle can put the odds of remaining cancer-free on your side.
Make sure you include the following eight nutrients in your diet:
1. Vitamin D. A recent study from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense found that men who were deficient in vitamin D were much more likely to develop prostate cancer than other men. The risk of aggressive prostate cancer was increased by up to 500 percent. Experts recommend at least 5,000 international units of vitamin D daily or at least 15 minutes of summer sunshine without sunscreen.
2. Melatonin. A recent Harvard study found that men who had higher levels of the sleep hormone melatonin were much less likely to develop prostate cancer. “We found that men who had higher levels of melatonin had a 75 percent reduced risk for developing advanced prostate cancer compared with men who had lower melatonin,” said researcher Sarah Markt. Many health experts advise supplementing with 3 milligrams of melatonin.
3. Lycopene. Lycopene is the pigment that gives tomatoes and watermelons their bright red color. It’s an antioxidant, and studies have shown that it can decrease the risk of prostate cancer by up to 35 percent. One study found that men with precancerous changes in their prostates who took 4 milligrams of lycopene twice daily lowered the risk of their condition progressing to cancer. A study at Britain’s University of Portsmouth found that lycopene in tomatoes becomes even more biologically active when cooked with a small amount of oil.
4. Indole-3 carbinol. Indole-3 carbinol (I3C) is created from the breakdown of compounds found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage. “Studies have shown that combining lycopene in a dose of 20 to 30 milligrams with indole-3 carbinole—extracted from broccoli—can dramatically shrink a swollen prostate and greatly reduce the risk of prostate cancer,” says Dr. Blaylock. For men who already have the disease, a study reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that the body converts I3C into a substance called DIM which keeps prostate cancer cells from growing and spreading.
5. Grapeseed extract. A study funded by the National Cancer Institute found that taking grapeseed extract reduced the risk of prostate cancer by 40 to 60 percent. At the beginning of the study, researchers found that men who regularly took grapeseed extract lowered their risk of prostate cancer by 41 percent, and those who had taken the supplement for 10 years reduced their risk by 62 percent.
6. Green tea extract. Italian researchers at the University of Parma studied men with a pre-malignant form of prostate cancer called prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN). Those men who took three 200 mg capsules of green tea extract daily slashed their risk of developing prostate cancer by 90 percent when compared to men taking a placebo.
Researchers at Louisiana State University found that when men scheduled for prostate surgery took four capsules containing polyphenol E, an active ingredient in tea that was the equivalent to 12 cups of green tea — their PSA levels dropped as much as 30 percent.
7. Curcumin. Curcumin is the active compound in the Indian spice turmeric, and scientists at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center found that a synthetic version of curcumin slowed and even stopped the growth of prostate cancer cells in the laboratory, results that were echoed by a German study. Researchers have found that curcumin activates a molecule that reduces the proliferation of cancer cells. A Japanese study found that curcumin caused PSA levels to drop by 50 percent.
8. Quercetin. This powerful antioxidant, a bioflavonoid found in apples, onions, and garlic, stops changes in the prostrate that lead to cancer. Chinese researchers found that human prostate cells treated with quercetin died within 48 hours, and researchers at Mayo Clinic found that quercetin slowed or prevented the growth of prostate cancer.
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