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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Prostate Protection: A Look at Holistic Cancer-Prevention Strategies

May 30, 2024 09:28AM ● By Zak Logan
vegetables, broccoli, avocado, tomato, nuts, orange, apple, garlic, berries, spinach

Danijela Maksimovic

Most men don’t usually think about their prostate until they face an exam or experience symptoms such as pain or difficulties while urinating. These symptoms may be attributed to a benign enlargement of the gland, usually in older men, or to the presence of cancer cells. This understated reproductive player, which can be stimulated for sexual pleasure, is responsible for regulating urine flow, secreting semen and converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) at puberty.

Prostatic cancer usually affects men over 65. African American and Caribbean men are at a higher risk. Although the American Cancer Society predicts almost 300,000 new cases this year, overhauling the diet and getting regular exercise can make a difference. “It’s never too early to begin taking care of your prostate,” says Dennis Golden, a two-time cancer survivor and prostate-cancer coach from New Kent, Virginia.


Proactive Lifestyle Measures

“In terms of lifestyle, everything is accumulative. If you put in junk, your body doesn’t know what to do with it and stores all those chemicals that don’t belong there, and it all eventually catches up with you someday. Read labels. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it,” says Golden, who went back to basics when he faced his frightening cancer diagnosis.

According to Jon Lanman, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Bend, Oregon, “In health care, we talk a lot about lifestyle change, and the reality is that lifestyle change is hard, and it takes time.” He advises tossing aside perfection and expecting slip-ups while committing to small changes that add up.

For Golden, eliminating restaurant food, excessive sodium and alcohol has been key. A fan of quick and easy meals, he relies on pan cooking for healthy, delicious fare with plenty of steamed veggies. “There’s no reason to grab a burger or to eat out when you can have a meal finished in 25 minutes. I veered away from beef and incorporated more chicken and fish like salmon and fresh trout,” he explains, adding that biking also made a difference. Now 81, he pedals 25 miles several times a week.


Dietary Recommendations

Lanman notes, “There is no single miracle food, but I’d recommend limiting sugars and processed carbohydrates, as well as processed meats and red meats.” To amp up nutrients, he spotlights the Mediterranean and DASH diets that accentuate fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Lanman also recommends lycopene, a compound found in tomatoes, beets, radishes, cherries and pink grapefruit, which has shown promise in the treatment and prevention of prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) advocates cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, bok choy, kale and Brussels sprouts. Packed with the phytochemical glucoraphanin that targets cancer cells, broccoli is a heavy hitter, as well.

Recent research points to a number of nutritional guidelines. A 2021 study published in European Journal of Public Health noted that nitrites as food additives were positively associated with prostate cancer risk. A 2022 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition also found a higher risk of the disease in those consuming red and processed meats.

In a 2022 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reported a lower risk of aggressive forms of prostate cancer in men under 65 that followed a diet rich in plant-based foods. After tracking men in a study for six years, a team of Harvard University scientists found that selenium supplementation was linked to a 65 percent lower occurrence of advanced prostate cancer, but it was contraindicated for individuals with high systemic levels of the mineral. Additional studies are underway to determine recommended dosages, but the researchers of this study recommended “a healthful diet that will provide good amounts of the mineral.”


Rethink Alcohol

Both Lanman and Golden recommend eliminating alcohol altogether. While research on the correlation between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer is inconclusive, a 2022 meta-analysis published in the journal Biomoleculessuggests that alcohol intake and the development of prostatic cancer can create the perfect storm when poor diet, folate and fiber deficiencies, advanced age, race, smoking, obesity, genetics, stress and other factors are also present.


Mood Regulation

According to the PCF, extreme stress can have a cumulative effect on the body, allowing prostate cancer to take root and grow. This is because the stress response can activate certain hormones that make it easier for tumors to grow and spread, while also negatively impacting the immune system. 

To relieve stress and learn better coping skills, PCF suggests adopting relaxation and meditation practices, counseling, group therapy and exercise. For Golden, better health is a mindset. He endorses journaling and having good expectations daily. “Focus on the positives,” he says. 

Zak Logan is a freelance health writer dedicated to holistic living and getting back to basics.


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