Are vegetarians at a distinct advantage when it comes to cancer prevention? Although experts disagree on most things health-related, they seem to agree on this one point across the board.
The risk for prostate cancer probably haunts every adult male, just as breast cancer remains a top health concern among the female population.
Prostate cancer is serious and is the second most common type of cancer in men all over the world (next to skin cancer).
In the U.S. alone, the American Cancer Society estimates over 180,000 new cases of prostate cancer for 2016, with more than 26,000 deaths resulting from the dreaded disease.
Statistics also indicate that approximately one in six to seven males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
The figures seem to get more alarming each year, but there are a number of ways that can actually help reduce your cancer risk.
True, cancer seems to hit some people more than the others due to certain predisposing factors such as heredity, age, gender, environment, and lifestyle.
While we can’t do much about age, gender, and genetics, we can do a whole lot regarding environment and lifestyle.
Prostate cancer mostly develops with age and rarely occurs in men under 40 years. More than 50 percent of cases are diagnosed after the age of 65, so early prostate cancer prevention is key to keeping away from this dreaded disease.
It all starts with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating right (here’s how to go plant-based slowly and comfortably). Choosing what you eat will not only keep the cancer at bay, you also lessen your risk for other killer diseases like stroke, heart attack, or diabetes.
The Link Between Diet and Cancer
Various health organizations around the world have invested time and money into cancer research over the past decades. Among them is the World Cancer Research Fund, which is the first entity to really focus its efforts at establishing a link between diet and cancer prevention.
Among the observations gathered from their continuing studies on subjects from all over the globe is growing evidence that plant-based diets consisting mostly of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes significantly decrease the risk of different types of cancers.
Alcohol and processed or red meat, on the other hand, were shown to notably increase cancer susceptibility.
Findings from a recently concluded study funded by the World Cancer Research Fund revealed that a plant-based diet can significantly reduce prostate cancer risk.
Conducted by researchers at the Loma Linda University in California, this long-term study focused on the eating patterns of more than 26,000 male subjects over a period of seven years. Results revealed that those whose diets were mostly plant-based had reduced their risk for prostate cancer by 35 percent.
While much has previously been written about how certain types of diets can enhance a person’s overall health and wellness, this is the very first time an in-depth study was done to assess the link between prostate cancer and a host of different diet types.
This particular study looked into practically all diet variations, including vegan, semi-vegetarian, non-vegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and pesco-vegetarian. The outcome? Prostate cancer risk was lowest among those on vegan diets.
What sets this study apart from the rest is its realistic approach: humans normally eat a combination of foods and rarely consume a particular type of food in isolation. So rather than focus on individual food items, a study on certain types of diets will generate more sensible and relevant results.
How Plant-Based Diets Can Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk
There are several explanations as to how a plant-based diet can protect one against cancer of the prostate. First and foremost is that there is a significant reduction in levels of insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1) in the blood.
IGF-1 encourages the growth of cells that line the prostate, and the latest epidemiologic examinations reveal that elevated levels of this protein heightens one’s risk of prostate cancer.
Because plant-based diets mostly consist of large amounts of vegetables and fruits, the body receives high levels of antioxidants on a constant basis.
This helps a lot in reducing inflammation, which will eventually play a major role in the development and progression of prostate cancer and other types of cancer, for that matter.
It is also vital to note that low-fiber diets can heighten circulating insulin, estradiol, and testosterone levels, which will ultimately encourage prostate cancer growth. In relation to this, plant-based diets will be quite beneficial to the body because they are naturally high in fiber.
A high-fiber diet significantly reduces hormone levels, which could play a major role in prostate cancer progression. Also, fiber has the tendency to bind to carcinogens and other toxic compounds, which makes them easier to eliminate from the human body.
Diets that contain huge amounts of red meat, animal fat, and dairy products are known to feed tumor growth, so they should be avoided as much as possible.
Red meat in particular (beef, lamb, and pork) is directly linked to aggressive prostate cancer, so men who may already have prostate cancer can increase their chances of survival by switching to a low-fat, vegan diet.
When consumption of cancer-fighting vegetarian food items is increased, PSA doubling time is remarkably slowed. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, a biological marker used to diagnose prostate disease. PSA doubling is the length of time it takes for PSA levels to increase by a hundred percent.
- Eat more fat from plants than from animals. In studies that looked at fat consumption and prostate cancer risk, fats from animals were most likely to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Animal products that contain fats include meat, lard and butter.You might consider using plant-based fats instead of animal fats. For instance, cook with olive oil rather than butter. Sprinkle nuts or seeds on your salad rather than cheese.
- Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients that are thought to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, though research hasn’t proved that any particular nutrient is guaranteed to reduce your risk.Eating more fruits and vegetables also tends to make you have less room for other foods, such as high-fat foods.You might consider increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat each day by adding an additional serving of a fruit or vegetable to each meal. Consider eating fruits and vegetables for snacks.
Prevention, Delayed Progression, Therapy, and Disease Reversal
It’s a long-known fact that good nutrition is key to helping reduce one’s risk of dreaded diseases such as prostate cancer.
There is preliminary evidence that early intervention and the adoption of a plant-based diet can attenuate disease progression, provide therapeutic gains for clinical management, and even possibly reverse the disease.
When you’re eating right, you may not even know you have this walnut-sized gland in the male reproductive system. Well, not until your doctor will probably ask to check it when you turn 50 or 60 or experience urinary issues.
Just keep in mind that the exact low-fat, high-fiber plant-based diet often recommended for optimum health and wellness is the same diet that works best for the prevention of prostate cancer and other prostate-related issues.
- Tantamango-Bartley Y, Knutsen SF, Knutsen R, Jacobsen BK, Fan J, Beeson WL,
- Sabate J, Hadley D, Jaceldo-Siegl K, Penniecook J, Herring P, Butler T, Bennett
- H, Fraser G. Are strict vegetarians protected against prostate cancer?§ Am J Clin
- Nutr. 2016 Jan;103(1):153-60. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.106450. PubMed PMID:
- 26561618; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4691666.
- Wolk A, Mantzoros CS, Andersson SO, Bergström R, Signorello LB, Lagiou P,
- Adami HO, Trichopoulos D. Insulin-like growth factor 1 and prostate cancer risk: a population-based, case-control study.§ J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Jun
- 17;90(12):911-5. PubMed PMID: 9637140.