Prostate Cancer Prevention
Conversations around hormone-receptive cancers often jump to breast, cervical, or ovarian cancer in women, but prostate cancer cannot be left out of the discussion.
Fuelled by unhealthy testosterone levels, it’s the second most common cancer in men. To put it into perspective, it accounts for 21% of new cancer cases in men each year, and an average of 58 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every single day. So, as a man wanting to take action against these statistics, let’s talk about how can you decrease your risk and prevent against prostate cancer.
Who is at Higher Risk?
Some men carry a higher risk of prostate cancer, so let’s review some known risk factors associated with prostate cancer:
You’re male and your father or brother has been affected by prostate cancer
You are of African or Caribbean descent
You are overweight
You have an unhealthy diet (think limited fruits and veggies)
You live north of the 40th parallel (as we all do in Canada)
You’re over the age of 50
If any of these risk factors sound like you, it’s especially important to have a conversation with your medical or naturopathic doctor, and consider prevention strategies.
What can I do to Lower my Risk?
While research has yet to define an exact prevention protocol for prostate cancer, diet and lifestyle changes have been proven to lower the risk of both development and progression of prostate cancer. So here’s a breakdown of what you can do at home to protect yourself safely and effectively.
Consider Olive Oil + Fish Consumption
We’re talking all about which kinds of fats help protect the body and which can harm us. Both the total amount of fat AND the type of fats you eat can increase your risk for both prostate cancer onset and severity. Saturated fats (think dairy, fatty meat, and mayonnaise) have been linked to increased severity of prostate cancer, while monounsaturated fats (especially oleic acid, found in olive oil) and omega-3 fatty acids (hello fish) have been shown to decrease prostate cancer occurence.
So do your best to add fish to your diet 2-3 times each week, as those omega-3 fatty acids can help lower inflammation and protect the prostate (as well as our heart, brain, eyes, skin, etc). And while we never want to cook with olive oil at a high heat, low heat cooking (keep that stovetop below 5) and dressing your meals with olive oil before you eat them is a fantastic way to benefit from all the protective effects of this healthy fat source.
Keep Eating Those Tomatoes
It seems we can’t have a conversation about prostate health without talking about these. So while you likely already know that eating tomatoes can help to protect your prostate (thanks to all the lycopene contained in them), don't forget that there are ways you can increase the benefits (i.e. upping the bioavailability) when you eat them. If you’re gonna go through the work of eating all those tomatoes, you may as well get the most benefit from them that you can!
You can increase the bioavailability of tomatoes by:
Chopping, blending, and cooking them
Cooking and/or eating them with a healthy fat, especially olive oil
Avoid Grilled, Processed, Red Meat
We have all seen the articles warning us of the carcinogenic effects of our beloved BBQ, or Braai as we say in South Africa, and in men, those risks extend to prostate cancer as well. In 2015 a study was published showing that the consumption of barbecue meats increased the risk of prostate cancer by 11% and the risk of advanced prostate cancer by 28%. It seems that the more processed and the more barbequed the meats were, the higher the risk became.
Let’s not sit here and say that I expect you to never enjoy a nice BBQ meal again, but instead let’s talk about moderate changes, which can have significant benefit as the years go on.
Save the grilling for special events and choose to include chicken instead of just cooking up those steaks, after all variety is the spice of life
Think low and slow when you cook, as the primary risk comes with those high heat chemical changes
Keep your BBQ tools and grills clean! That burnt remnant from your last meal is only going to further damage your body when it sticks to your next meal, so start fresh every time
Prevention strategies don’t have to be extreme. Making small positive changes, thinking about your day-to-day health habits, and adding in a few protective foods can go a long way. You deserve to focus on the things in your life you care most about, without continually worrying about your prostate.
In support of your health,
Dr. Hayhlee Clarence, ND