Over the past 30 years and since its peak in the mid-1990s, the incidence of prostate cancer has declined. Aside from skin cancer, however, prostate cancer remains the most common cancer American men face. According to the American Cancer Society, doctors are estimated to diagnose another 161,360 people with prostate cancer in 2017, 26,730 of whom are expected to die.[1,2,3] But prostate cancer is not the only thing causing many men’s prostates to suffer. So, below you will find foods to eat and avoid helping you to avoid those problems and achieve a healthy prostate.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Have You Heard of It?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as prostate enlargement, is a non-cancerous male condition wherein the prostate gland becomes enlarged. While prostate enlargement may sound intimidating, it’s an occurrence that happens twice throughout a man’s life. The first stage begins when a boy hits puberty and his prostate doubles in size; the second is around the age of twenty-five and continues to grow for most of his life.
BPH affects every male differently; some will have more severe cases than others. Prostate enlargement becomes problematic when the gland begins to press on and pinch the urethra. This added pressure thickens the bladder wall, gradually weakening and taking away the bladder’s ability to empty completely. As a result, the bladder collects retained urine which can lead to toxicity and other health problems.
Who’s More Likely to Develop BPH?
Men may experience prostate enlargement at different stages in life and to varying degrees. But these factors are the most common among men who develop BPH:[4,5]
- At least 40-years-old
- Obesity, heart or circulatory disease, and type 2 diabetes
- Other family members who have had BPH
- Physical inactivity
- Erectile dysfunction
The Difference Between Prostate Enlargement and Prostate Cancer
What these conditions share is that they each affect the prostate, a walnut-shaped gland located beneath men’s bladders that produces the liquid part of semen. Although they each result in the prostate gland increasing in size, BPH – as per its name – is not cancerous and cannot spread elsewhere in the body. People may have trouble distinguishing between because many of the symptoms overlap:
- Urgent need to urinate
- Excessive urge to urinate throughout the day
- Trouble urinating or needing to force urine out
- Urine system that’s weak or dribbles
- Urine flow that stops and starts
- Feeling like your bladder never fully empties
The distinct symptoms signifying prostate cancer versus BPH are:
- Painful or burning sensation when urinating
- Painful sensation when ejaculating
- Blood in your urine or semen
- Erectile dysfunction
- Lower amounts of ejaculate
The Important Role Diet Plays When It Comes to Prostate Cancer
Just because prostate enlargement inevitable, it doesn’t mean you’re powerless. There are certain dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to keep your prostate as healthy as possible. Over the decades, mounting evidence has led many doctors to understand prostate cancer as a nutritional disease.
Foods that Increase or Decrease Your Risk of Prostate Cancer
Depending on the food and drink you choose to consume on a regular basis, they can either increase or decrease your prostate cancer risk.
- High-glycemic-index Foods: 64% increased risk
- Hamburgers: 79% increased risk
- Grilled Red Meat: 63% increased risk
- Well-done Red Meat: 52% increased risk
- Processed Meat: 57% increased risk
- Milk: 111% increased risk
- Fish: 44% reduced risk
- Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, Tomato Juice: 35% reduced risk
- Leafy Greens: 34% reduced risk
- Soy: 30% reduced risk
- Carotenoid-rich Vegetables: 29% reduced risk
The 9 Best Foods You Can Eat for a Healthy Prostate
For anyone wanting to eat in a way that not only improves overall health but also promotes a healthy prostate and helps prevent prostate cancer, the list below is incredibly helpful. Consuming a steady diet of the foods and supplements below will help give you the best chance at avoiding one of top causes of cancer in men.
Organic Fermented Soy Products
In numerous population studies, researchers found that the isoflavones (i.e., genistein and daidzein) found in soy offered significant protection against prostate cancer. Lab and animal studies even confirmed that isoflavones in soy can effectively inhibit prostate cancer cell growth.[9,10]
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The more fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that you eat, the less your risk will be for developing prostate cancer. In both population and animal studies, there were high levels of EPA and DHA in red blood cells and helped inhibit growth of prostate cancer cells.
In one study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that in men with existing prostate cancer, supplementing about two tablespoons of ground flaxseed help reduce the rate of prostate cancer cell growth. Moreover, ground flaxseed increased cancer cell death in just 34 days.
In both population and clinical studies, researchers have found that supplementing vitamin E can help significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, it’s crucial to try and consume natural forms of vitamin E, versus synthetic ones. This is because the synthetic version may keep the natural vitamin E from effectively entering cell membranes.[8,13]
In a 10-year cancer prevention trial, researchers found that selenium helped reduce the incidence of prostate, colon, and lung cancer. Although the study was conducted in 1962, it was extremely exciting because it showed that certain cancers could potentially be prevented by a simple supplement.
Lycopene is the naturally occurring compound found in foods like tomatoes that gives them their red coloring. Its popularity as an anticancer treatment happened after Harvard researchers found that, compared to other carotenes, lycopene was the only that clearly protected against prostate cancer.
The scientific evidence for vitamin D’s effectiveness against prostate cancer remains limited and inconsistent. However, a 2000 study found that men who had a vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to develop more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
Berries and Other Sources of Proanthocyanidins
In a series of test tube studies, researchers have found that blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, pomegranates, cherries, and plums have exhibited anticancer actions. Another study published in International Urology and Nephrology explored the effect of grape seed extract on prostate cancer. The study revealed that the use of any type of grape seed extract, prostate cancer risk could be reduced by up to 41 percent.[8,17]
Regularly drinking green tea may help protect against various forms of cancer, including prostate cancer. Researchers estimate that to reap sufficient benefits from green tea, you would need to drink between three and five cups per day. This also assumes that the green tea you’re consuming has a minimum of 250mg polyphenols per day. However, simply drinking lots of green tea may not be an effective preventative treatment for higher-risk individuals. (Though it doesn’t hurt to keep drinking!)
 Brawley, O. W. (2012, September). Trends in Prostate Cancer in the United States. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3540881/
 Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer | Prostate Cancer Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2017, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
 Cancer Facts & Figures 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2017, from https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2017/cancer-facts-and-figures-2017.pdf
 Prostate Enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). (2014, September 01). Retrieved September 21, 2017, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostate-enlargement-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia
 Watson, S. (2017, March 15). What’s the Difference Between BPH and Prostate Cancer? Retrieved September 21, 2017, from http://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health/bph-vs-prostate-cancer#symptoms2
 Horton, R. (1984). Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Disorder of Androgen Metabolism in the Male. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 32(5), 380-385. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.1984.tb02044.x
 Murray, Michael T. ; Pizzorno, Joseph. (2012). The encyclopedia of natural medicine third edition. Atria Books.
 Bush IM, Berman E, Nourkayhan S, et al. (1974). Zinc and the prostate. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association Chicago.
 Fahim MS, Fahim Z, Der R, Harman J. (1976). Zinc treatment for reduction of hyperplasia of prostate. Fed Proc; 35(3): 361.
 Leake, A., Chisholm, G. D., & Habib, F. K. (1984). The effect of zinc on the 5α-reduction of testosterone by the hyperplastic human prostate gland. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry, 20(2), 651-655. doi:10.1016/0022-4731(84)90138-9
 Corenblum, B., & Whitaker, M. (1977). Inhibition of stress-induced hyperprolactinaemia. Bmj, 2(6098), 1328-1328. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.6098.1328
 Damrau, F. (1962). Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy: Amino Acid Therapy For Symptomatic Relief. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 10(5), 426-430. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.1962.tb00317.x
 Berges, R., Windeler, J., Trampisch, H., Senge, T., & Group, Β S. (1995). Randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of β-sitosterol in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. The Lancet, 345(8964), 1529-1532. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(95)91085-9
 Wilt, T., Ishani, A., Stark, G., MacDonald, R., Mulrow, C., & Lau, J. (n.d.). Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Retrieved September 22, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10796790
 Dutkiewicz, S. (1996). Usefulness of Cernilton in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. International Urology and Nephrology, 28(1), 49-53. doi:10.1007/bf02550137
 Macdonald, R., Ishani, A., Rutks, I., & Wilt, T. (2001). A systematic review of Cernilton for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. BJU International,85(7), 836-841. doi:10.1046/j.1464-410x.2000.00365.x
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