Effects of Nutrition on Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the malignant growth of prostate gland cells and it is the third most common cause of death from cancer in men of all ages, and it is the most common cause of death from cancer in men over the age of seventy-five(ncbi. nlm. nih. gov). Although prostate cancer is such a prominent issue today, there are dietary approaches that can be taken in order to reduce the risk of obtaining this disease, as well as treating it.

Several studies have found that diets low in fat, high in vegetables and fruits, and avoiding excessive meat, high dairy products, calcium and high energy intake are strongly associated with decreased risk and reduction in progression of prostate cancer (Ma & Chapman, 2009). A review of the effect of diet on prostate cancer provided an extensive list of specific foods and nutrients that have been proven by several studies to prevent and/or treat this disease, as well as a list of foods that should be avoided. Plant-based foods showed to contain elements that are most effective in preventing/treating prostate cancer.

Constituents of plant-based foods include vitamin C, vitamin E, and phytochemicals such as carotenoids, flavonoids, phyto-oestrogens and isothiocyanates (Ma & Chapman, 2009). All of these have been found to possess anti-carcinogenic properties. Carotenoids, which are found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, retard cancer cell development and inhibit tumor promotion. Some have antioxidents, which binds to free radicals, and therefore reduces the damage of DNA and decreases risk of cancer. One type of carotenoid is lycopene, which is found in foods such as tomatoes and watermelon.

Lycopene is believed to limit oxidative damage to cellular macromolecules; it does so by impacting insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling. IGF-1 has been found to increase the susceptibility of prostate cancer; so, if the signaling for IGF-1 has been effected, then it cannot have this negative effect. Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and bok choy (all of which are considered cruciferous vegetables) contain glucosinolate compounds, which studies have shown protect cells from DNA damage, induce apoptosis (programmed cell death), and inhibit cell proliferation of prostate cancer (Ma & Chapman, 2009).

They also possess phenethyl isothiocyanate, sulfophorane and indole-3-carbinol, which are compounds that have potential anti-cancer properties. Polyphenolic compounds in green tea have also been found to have the same effects as the cruciferous vegetables- they prevent metastases of the cancer, induce apoptosis and inhibit cell growth. Studies have shown that green tea inhibits tumor growth, therefore, leading to lower prostate-specific antigen levels and lower IGF-1 levels (Ma & Chapman, 2009). Soy beans have also been found to have plant-based constituents that have a significant effect on cancer.

They contain isoflavones, which inhibits enzymes associated with the transmission of signals from cellular growth factor receptors. However, other studies have found that the consumption of very hot drinks, such as coffee and tea, could increase the risk of cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus. Therefore, teas and other beverages should be consumed warm rather than hot (Tandon et al. , 2008). Fish oils contain long-chain n3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), which inhibits cell growth and serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) protein expression (Ma & Chapman, 2009).

PSA is produced in the prostate gland and is what causes semen to liquify. Most of the PSA is eliminated from the body by semen, but some escapes into the blood stream. It is present in small quantities in the serum of men with healthy prostates, but it is often elevated in the presence of prostate cancer (“Prostate Specific Antigen”, n. d. ). Fish oils also contain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and the two play opposing roles. Omega 3 fatty acids protect from cancer, while omega 6 fatty acids have been found to promote cancer when consumed in excessive amounts (Tandon et al., 2008).

Therefore, a higher ratio of N-3 to N-6 fats can help reduce the incidence of prostate cancer. Several vitamins have been discovered to have potent effects on prostate cancer. Vitamin E acts as an intracellular antioxidant as well as an antiprostaglandin (prostaglandins are believed to have a roll in prostate cancer). A higher intake of vitamin E proves to be very beneficial; however, an intake greater than 400 IU may be very harmful (Ma & Chapman, 2009).

It has been discovered that various types of tissues, both cancerous and normal tissues, including prostate cells, have the ability to convert the major circulating form of vitamin D into the active hormonal form. This active hormonal form of vitamin D has potent anticancer properties, inhibiting the growth of primary prostatic epithelial cells (Tandon et al. , 2008). There is also some evidence that high concentrations of vitamin C is preferentially toxic to cancer cells and has beneficial effects in cancer therapy. A mineral called selenium have proven to be a potent protective nutrient for some forms of cancer.

It induces apoptosis, inhibits cellular proliferation and inhibits angiogenesis (Ma & Chapman, 2009). Angiogenesis is the growth of new capillary blood vessels in the body, but a disturbed balance in this process can lead to cancer. It is a fundamental step in the transition of tumors from a dormant state to a malignant one (Li, Smith & Li, 2011). Several studies have shown that the incidence of prostate cancer is much lower with high selenium levels. All of the aforementioned foods and nutrients aid in prevention and treatment of prostate cancer, however there are many foods that increase the risk and should be avoided.

Meats, fats and high energy intake are strongly associated with an increased risk of the development and progression of prostate cancer. Studies show that meat cooked at high temperatures, processed meat and red meat can play a role in inducing prostate cancer. Meats cooked at high temperatures can produces carcinogens. Carcinogens alter DNA, and this is usually detected by the cells and and, in turn, an attempt is made to repair the DNA. If the cells cannot repair the DNA, they undergo apoptosis (cell death). If the damage done on the DNA prevents apoptosis or or encourages cell division, cancer occurs (“Why Carcinogens Cause Cancer”, n.d. ).

Various studies also concluded that there is a significant increased risk of metastatic prostate cancer with the consumption of red meats and/or processed meats. Experimental evidences suggests a positive association between fat intake and prostate cancer. Researchers have found that consumption of total, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats are significantly related to the risk of high-grade prostate cancer (Crowe et al. , 2008). Mores specifically, studies showed that there is approximately a 10-21% increased risk for an increase in fat of about 45 grams per day in total fat (Park, Murphy, Wilkens, Henderson, & Kolonel, 2007).

Not only is fat intake a major risk factor for prostate cancer, but eating too much overall is dangerous. Obesity and being overweight is a rapidly growing problem, especially in our society. Being obese or overweight is a reflection of excessive energy intake, which is consuming too many calories and not burning enough energy through physical activity. Positive associations have been found between obesity and higher death rates for prostate cancer, as well as many other types of cancers.

A recent study observed eighty-seven men with prostate cancer; 89% of these men were either over weight or obese, 97% of them had a body fat greater than 25%, and half of them had central obesity (Mehdad, McBride, Grillo, Camilo, & Ravasco, 2010). Obesity is associated with an increase in IGF-1, which, as previously stated, stimulates cell proliferation. Being physically active for at least thirty minutes a day could help patients loose weight, thereby reducing their risk or progression of prostate cancer. There is an extensive list of foodstuff that should be avoided or eaten in moderation, too many to go into detail about.

However, some other things that are important to mention are dairy products, salts, calcium, ? -carotene (a carotenoid) and alcoholic beverages. All of these things should be consumed in low amounts in order to reduce the risk or progression of prostate cancer. Although there are numerous studies providing evidence that a modified diet and exercise regime could drastically effect the chances of developing prostate cancer and progression of prostate cancer, many may find it hard to implement the information in their actual diets.

Especially today when our industrial agricultural system focuses on producing high caloric foods at a cheap price. It is important that people are more educated on how their diets can affect their lives. Most people just think that their diet affects their weight, but many types of cancer can be drastically affected by diet. It has actually been declared that almost one third of cancers are preventable through healthy diets and lifestyles (World Cancer Research Fund, 2007). Personally knowing someone who has defeated prostate cancer solely by altering his diet has really put the importance of a healthy diet into perspective.

Although he may not be happy with the foods he eats, he has the ability to say that he is now cancer free and will have many more years left with his family, all without any type of medical treatment.

Works Cited Crowe, F. L. , Key, T. J. , Appleby, P. N. , Travis, R. C. , Overvad, K. , Jakobsen, M. U. ,… Riboli, E. (2008). Dietary fat intake and risk of prostate cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87: 1405-1413. Li, W. , Hutnik, M. , Smith, R. , & Li, V. (2011). Understanding Angiogenesis. Retrieved from http://www. angio. org/ua.php. July 10, 2010. Ma, R. W. -L. & Chapman, K. (2009).

A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 22:187-199. Mehdad, A. , McBride, E. , Grillo, I. M. , Camilo, M. , & Ravasco, P. (2010). Nutritional status and eating pattern in prostate cancer patients. Nutricion Hospitalaria,2 (3): 422-427. Park, S. , Murphy, S. P. , Wilkens, L. R. , Henderson, B. E. , & Kolonel, L. N. (2007). Fat and meat intake and prostate cancer risk: the multiethnic cohort study. International Journal of Cancer, 121: 1339-1345. “Prostate Specific Antigen”.

Retrieved from http://www. medicinenet. com/ prostate_specific_antigen/article. htm . July 10, 2011. Tandon, M. , Siddique, R. A. , Avrind, R. , Singh, N. K. , Ambwani, T. , & Rai, S. N. (2008). Anti-cancer diet: reviewing the role of nutrition in cancer prevention. Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research, 6(2): 67-82. “Why Carcinogens Cause Cancer”. Retrieved from http://www. edinformatics. com/interactive_molecules/dna. htm. July 10, 2010. World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food,Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington, DC: AICR, 2007.

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