Prostate Disorders: Part 3
Prostate Disorders: Part 3Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Diet, Lifestyle, and Prostate Cancer
As we have seen in many of my previous newsletters, hands-down the best diet for optimal health and longevity, supported by scientific research, is the Mediterranean diet. And my research indicates that treating prostate disorders is no exception. This diet with a low intake of animal protein, and a high intake of whole plant foods, has shown to be protective against the development of BPH, but more importantly, has also proven to be the best diet to avoid prostate cancer.
Since information on the Mediterranean diet is commonly available, I am going to go into depth on some of the specific foods which should be avoided, or included in the diet, in order to protect us from developing prostate cancer. This material has been derived from one meta-analysis of all the diet and food related studies seeking to determine which foods are linked to causing prostate cancer, and those which appear to help prevent prostate cancer (link to follow at the end of Part 4).
I will begin with the food most widely-known to help prevent prostate cancer: tomatoes. Now, while lycopene is commonly used as a supplement to protect the prostate gland from cancer, the American FDA has determined that lycopene in isolation does not have the benefits that it does when in its natural state (in stewed tomatoes for example). When approached to allow health claims regarding lycopene and risk reduction for some forms of cancer, the FDA concluded: “there was no credible evidence to support an association between lycopene intake and a reduced risk of prostate and other cancers.”
However, “an inverse association between cooked tomato/lycopene intake and risk of advanced disease of the prostate”, has been established. (Source)
Research established that intake of cooked tomatoes (ideally with some fat in it) was inversely associated with prostate cancer risk, but found no relationship between intake of raw tomatoes and prostate cancer risk. Naturally-derived lycopene from tomato can be purchased in supplement form, but ensure the label indicates the product is in a base of tomato extract, to ensure it is of value. Cooking tomatoes with olive oil further improved lycopene absorption but, surprisingly, what improved it even more was including onions in the recipe. To quote the study: “The use of onion combined with an adequate processing time may improve the bioavailability of lycopene in tomato products.” (Source)
Now to the big study I mentioned. The goal of this giant overview of human dietary patterns was such: “To review and summarize evidence on the role of diet and lifestyle factors and prostate cancer progression, with a specific focus on habits after diagnosis and the risk of subsequent disease recurrence, progression, or death.”
There are three lifestyle factors that weigh heavily into the prostate cancer equation, the first being weight itself.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
A high body mass index (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, kg/m2) is strongly associated with an increased risk of death from prostate cancer. Being obese, either before or at the time of diagnosis, appears to be closely associated with “prostate cancer progression and prostate cancer-specific mortality.”
For those who gain excessive weight after prostate cancer has been diagnosed, there is an association with the cancer reoccuring after treatment, and prostate cancer-specific mortality. “The proposed underlying biologic mechanisms involve the insulin/insulin-like growth factor axis, altered levels of sex hormones and adipokine signaling.”
Let’s have a closer look at adipokine signaling just to more fully understand the mechanisms at work here.
The form of fat known as white adipose tissue, can account for up to 20% of body weight in men. “The key role of adipose tissue in metabolism is as an endocrine organ responsible for the secretion of bioactive molecules termed adipokines. Adipokines have hormone function, act as growth factors that modulate insulin resistance, and act on fat and glucose metabolism.” (Source)
Fortunately, the Mediterranean diet is a good way to lose weight, for most people. As well, one who is in the territory of obesity would be well advised to take berberine supplements, in order to get a jump on stabilizing insulin levels even before their weight drops.
In keeping with the concept that excessive body fat is a danger factor for the prostate, it makes sense that we find many studies “suggest that vigorous activity is associated with a reduced risk of lethal prostate cancer”. The types of activities categorized as “vigorous” are those which cause sweating and increased heart and respiratory rate. For example biking, jogging, and swimming.
“In a study of 2705 men with prostate cancer from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), men performing three or more hours per week of vigorous activity had a 61% lower risk of dying from prostate cancer compared with men with less than 1 h of vigorous activity per week.”
Okay, bringing up smoking may be a waste of space, since it has to be fairly obvious to all of us that smoking likely increases the risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer. And, indeed, “current smoking prior to diagnosis was associated with a 61% increased risk of prostate cancer mortality and a 61% increased risk of biochemical recurrence”.
However, the reason I mention it is that many men used to smoke, and smartly quit to improve their health and longevity. Yet, the study I just quoted, “also found that men who reported smoking 10+ years ago had prostate cancer mortality risks similar to those who had never smoked”.
Why might this be? Well, remember this material from Part Two? – “As well, in laboratory experiments, cadmium stimulates the over-growth of human prostatic epithelium (a sign of cancer). In these studies, the proper concentration of selenium inhibited cadmium-stimulated prostatic growth.” (Source)
Cadmium can be found in environmental toxins and contaminated foods, but, on average, the main source of cadmium is found in tobacco smoke. And, guess what? The other element that helps the body avoid storing cadmium, and helps to excrete it, is that other prostate-protecting mineral, zinc. (Source)
So, since cadmium is a cumulative carcinogen, it makes sense that it would be stored in the prostate of ex-smokers, essentially a ticking time bomb. That is except for those who had been actively working to clean heavy metals out of their bodies, and taking sufficient selenium and zinc to facilitate this process (and to avoid accumulating further amounts from their environment and diet).
One other option for eliminating cadmium from the body is the use of homeopathic cadmium (30 or 200 ch). Studies have shown that ingesting homeopathic cadmium (as well as a variety of other heavy metals) causes the body to expel it. (Source) This approach has also been shown to work with arsenic, aluminum, lead, and mercury. And just to get my two cents in, as much as the medical profession hates homeopathy, considering it quackery, one does not get stored heavy metals out of the body with the placebo effect.
We all know those foods that contribute to ill health and increased cancer risk: deep fried foods, heat-damaged vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates, sugar, etc. So, I am not going to go into those “foods”, but I will touch upon two foods that stood out in the meta-analysis we are examining here.
So, it appears that eating skinless poultry is not associated with increased risk of developing prostate cancer, nor does it aid in the progression of prostate cancer if consumed regularly after a positive diagnosis. However, those men who consumed three or more servings of poultry with skin, following a prostate cancer diagnosis “had a 2.26-fold increased risk of recurrence compared with men who consumed 0 servings/week”.
As I mentioned in Part One, the link between high meat intake and increased prostate cancer may be due to industrially-produced food animals, fed a diet high in omega 6 fatty acids (due to a high corn and soy intake). Given that, it may be that the problem with chicken is two-fold: chicken is the meat highest in omega 6 fatty acids, and since the skin contains mostly fat, this part of the bird will not only be high in omega 6, but also concentrate any toxins that the bird ingested during its lifespan.
Processed Red Meat
The link between consuming processed red meat (e.g. bacon, bologna, hot dogs, salami, sausage), and risk of advanced or fatal prostate cancer is somewhat unclear, with some studies showing an association and others finding none.
However, “substantial evidence shows that processed red meat increases the risk of other illnesses and all-cause mortality. The World Health Organization recently classified processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” and red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, with special reference to the substantial evidence for a relation between red meat and increased risk of developing advanced prostate cancer.”
This concludes Part 3 of a newsletter that just keeps growing. But it will end with Part 4, which will look at those foods with a good track record for preventing prostate cancer, many of which are even helpful after a prostate cancer diagnosis.