How to Prevent Prostate Cancer

Every male needs to take an aggressive approach to protect himself from prostate cancer. If you’ve grown up in a Western society, then you have spent decades eating beef (especially) and other meats cooked at high temperatures.  That delicious black residue on your meat is filled with various cancer causing agents such as HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) that head straight for your prostate. (The typical fast food burger, that we literally live and die for, is loaded with the stuff.)Many aspects of the Western lifestyle increase risk for prostate cancer and current lifetime estimates are 16%. [36]  

Many of you have also consumed huge amounts of dairy – another huge risk factor for prostate cancer. Again, to protect yourself from prostate cancer, you have to realize that you have no time to waste:  the “seeds of destruction” have already been planted through significant free radical and DNA destruction inside the delicate tissue of your prostate. In addition, many of you are overweight, which puts a significant and potentially deadly estrogen load on your prostate.

NOTE:  You should also check out my page How to Lower Your PSA, which shows the latest research on how to lower your PSA, and my page that discusses the research on Does Testosterone Therapy (TRT) Cause Prostate Cancer?.

But the good news is that research has shown us that you can drastically lower your odds of prostate cancer through simple dietary and lifestyle measures. I’ve listed below some of the most critical foods that you can eat (or avoid in some cases) to very significantly protect yourself from prostate cancer.

  1. IGF-1. IGF-1 is a huge risk factor for Prostate Cancer.  IGF-1 levels of 300-500 ng/ml in the blood increases your risk factor by four times across the board and over nine times if you are over the age of 60! [2] To help protect yourself from prostate cancer and lower IGF-1, simply avoid animal proteins and milk.  (See this link on Muscle Madness for more details.)
  2. Ejaculation . Men who ejaculate at least five times per week had a 32% lower prostate cancer risk. [1, 3]  I keep telling you that sex is good for you:  now you know it even helps to protect you from prostate cancer.  So grab the little woman and make love as if your life depended on it. Who knows? Maybe it really does!
  3. Ornish Diet..  The Ornish Diet, which I so often talk about on this site, consists of a low fat, basically vegan diet (and egg whites) with moderate exercise, stress management and a few supplements thrown in as well. In a 2008 study [4] the Ornish Diet actually turned off over 500 cancer-causing genes (or turned on cancer-protective genes) and completely reversed, at least as far as the researchers could tell, Prostate Cancer in the men enrolled in the study. The Ornish Diet appears to be a way to provide significant prostate cancer protection. Again, the disease was undetectable in these men!
  • Glycemic Index.   Low glycemic diets decrease prostate cancer risk by 57%. [Low Glycemic Index are foods that do not spike your blood sugar.]  Remember that, in general, cancer cells require greatly increased levels of glucose (blood sugar) in order to thrive and spread, so it is no wonder that low glycemic foods so strongly protect you from prostate cancer.  NOTE:  The Ornish Diet mentioned above is mostly composed of low glycemic foods, which may be yet another reason it so strongly protects the prostate.
  • Green Tea.  Green tea was found in one Japanese study [25] of  almost 50,000 men to decrease, in a dose-dependent manner, the risk of advanced prostate cancer.  Dose-dependence is one of the best forms of scientific corroboration because it basically means the more tea they drank, the better the protection against prostate cancer.
  • High Calcium. Too much calcium has been linked to prostate cancer due to the fact it supresses the body’s production of calcitrol, which is involved in the body’s fight against cancer.  Go easy on calcium supplements and even dairy containing calcium. [5] You don’t want to go too low either. CAUTION: Be wary of what the supplement stores try to sell you: often they push oyster shell calcium, which can contain significant levels of lead.
  • Tomatoes/Lycopene.  The connection between tomatoes and prostate cancer was controversial until recently.  Some studies had shown a decrease in prostate cancer and others no connection whatsoever.  A great link that summarizes the old research is here.  The answer to this dilemma, based on recent animal research, is that lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes, is simply not as effective by itself. To test this theory, researchers combined lycopene with an antioxidant that comes from dried fruit called FruHis.  This combination of FruHis and lycopene dramatically decreased cancerous growths. [6] Further research has shown that tomatoes are more powerful than lycopene in animal studies. [32] This is yet another example how no one nutrient, antioxidant or phytochemical as a food or supplement is the Silver Bullet.  It takes a balanced diet, which the Ornish or Mediterranean Diets would provide, to get deliver the knockout punch. NOTE: Cooked tomatoes actually have more bioavilable lycopene, which is the chemical that supposedly protects the prostate against cancer. As an example, catsup is actually higher than cooked tomatoes in bioavailable lycopene and thus should provide better prostate cancer protection. Again, though, tomatoes appear to be more powerful than catsup alone. CAUTION: Japanese researchers found that lycopene decreases testosterone, something you might to mention to anyone supplementing with lycopene for some reason. [7] 
  • HCAs.  HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and other compounds that are formed on meats, especially beef, cooked at high termperatures has been linked in has been linked in most (but not all) studies to prostate cancer.   Animal studies have shown additional problems: HCAs mutate prostate DNA in rodents for example. And researchers have also noted that HCA s cause DNA mutation in the colon. The longer (or hotter) that you cook beef, the more HCA s and other carcinogens that you get.  Note:  You can get around this to a certain extent by marinating your beef.  A Livermore study showed that marinating chicken for 40 minutes with a mixture of brown sugar, olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice and salt cut HCAs by 92 to 99 percentrning patties once a minute reduces HCA formation by up to 100 percent , probably by keeping internal meat temperatures lower.
  • Vitamin D decreases risk by 32%.  (By the way, Vit D greatly reduces the risk of MANY types of cancer, but it also is a potent protector against prostate cancer. It is also a proven to reduce risk of adult onset diabetes, metabolic syndrome and inflammation and is the closest thing you can take to a “miracle pill” (with the possible exception of Magnesium.  Recent research even shows it associated with prevention of the dreaded telomere shortening, one of the leading markers of aging.  Recent findings suggest high Vitamin D levels may increases life span by five years! Take between ! Take between 400-1200 IU per day. [8]  My recommendation is to take 1200 IU per day rain or shine.
  • Folic Acid.  High folate, i.e. Folic Acid, decreases risk by 50% and, therefore, provides strong prostate cancer protection. [9]  CAUTION: Folate has also been linked to GI cancers recently.  Again, it is better to get a reasonable amount of folate through your diet.
  • Broccoli/cruciferous vegetables .  One Journal of theNational Cancer Institute study showed that eating just three servings of broccoli/cruciferous vegetables per week reduces risk by about 40%. [10]  And another more recent study showed that brocolli protected males with the GSTM1 gene, a prostate cancer risk factor, from prostate cancer.  [26] It is actually surprising that Broccoli does not reduce risk to almost zero, because it is so potent of a cancer fighter.  First of all, it is well-known that Broccoli limits converstion of hormones to the most dangerous form of estrogen, estriadol.  And it is now widely accepted that estrogen, and estriadol in particular, play pivotal roles in the development of prostate cancer.  Secondly,  different compounds of broccoli disrupt blood flow to and reproduction of tumor cells as well as cause tumor cells to literally self-destruct.  [11] Another important way that broccoli probably protects the prostate is by reducing levels of the dangerous alpha-hydroxyestrone, which has been linked to increased risk of prostate cancer.[12] Finally, cruciferous vegetables actually detoxify PHiP, one of the key HCA’s implicated in causing prostate cancer in males (from cooking red meat).  NOTE:  I have all a whole link on How Broccoli Prevents Almost Every Kind of Cancer.
  • Pomegranate Juice.  Pomegranate juice (8 oz./day) very dramatically slowed the growth of prostate cancer cells in one recent study. [13]  The researchers speculated that pomegranate juice was also a likely candidate for preventing prostate cancer as well. [14]
  • Losing Weight.  Excess weight increases your risk of some of the deadlier forms of prostate cancer. So lose those pounds and protect your prostate!  [15]
  • Omega 3/Omega 6.  Decrease your omega-6 intake (from red meats, poultry, cheese, vegetable oils, cheese, etc.) and increase your omega-3 intake (fish oil and fish).  Researchers found (in mice) that omega-6’s promoted prostate cancer and omega-3’s inhibited prostate cancer.     [16]
  • Vegetables. Just eating vegetables significantly lowered prostate cancer risk according to one study of 30,000 health care workers. [17]  Again, a Meditteranean or Ornish Diet would therefore be a prostate cancer protector.
  • Cholesterol.  Lower cholesterol, in one case below 200, and according to a pair of recent studies, protects you from the most advanced forms of prostate cancer. [27] [28]  Actually, in both of these studies, the results applied to statin users.  However, the results seem to tie in nicely to Dr. Ornish’s results that show dietary reductions in cholesterol (and fat) actually turn off hundreds of prostate cancer genes. (See #3 above.)
  • Red Wine. A 2007 study analyzed prostate cancer risk and various common alcoholic beverages.  The results were surprising but consistent:  red wine showed a somewhat dose-dependent reduction in prostate cancer risk for moderate drinking, i.e. 1 glass per day maximum.  White wine showed some benefit but not as pronounced.  Men who drank about 1 glass of red wine per day actually reduced their risk of prostate by a little over half, a very pronouned effect indeed. [31]
  • HDL.  Men with high HDL actually showed a relatively small but statistically significant decrease in prostate and several kinds of cancer when compared with men with the lowest HDL levels. (NOTE: The Ornish Diet will actually lower HDL, but it does so many other good things including turning off prostate cancer genes.) [29]
  • Coffee.  Both decaf and regular give you solid prostate cancer protection, especially the deadly kind.  See my link on The Benefits of Coffee for more details.
  • Aspirin.  One recent study in Lancet shows that one baby aspirin per day improves your risk from a wide variety of cancers, including prostate. [34]
  • Dairy.  Some experts believe the estrogens in milk and dairy may lead to increased risk for prostate (and testicular) cancer. See my link on The Dangers of Milk for more details.
  • Fish Oil.  One recent study shows that taking fish oil capsules dramatically increases the risk for advanced prostate cancer – this is the kind you don’t want! – and significantly increases it for all prostate cancers. See this article for more details. Based on this, the authors recommended eating just one or two meals of fish per week instead. Keep in mind that this is just one study, but the results were so pronounced that it should be carefully considered. For a nice rebuttal to this study, read this discussion for more information.
  • Gamma Tocopherol. Most vitamin E supplements are the alpha form, i.e. alpha tocopherol. And one large study found that alpha increased the risk of prostate cancer by 17%.  However, we know that megadosing on the alpha form can decrease the other tocopherols in some tissues.  The reason that this is important is that another study showed the gamma form was associated with a 500% decrease in prostate cancer! [37]
  • Soy and Tomato.  One recent study in mice found a reduction in prostate cancer from this combo. [38] Yet another study showed that soy has been found to limit prostate cancer cells from metastasizing. [33] However, I am cautious about soy at this point, as I document in my link on The Pros and Cons of Soy Consumption, as it may negatively impact the male brain.

Another huge question in the minds of many males is “will HRT (testosterone supplementation) put me at risk for prostate cancer”?  Several large, well done studies – see below – have showed this not to be the case.  Talk to your doctor, of course, but the evidence looks very positive for testosterone therapy.

Below are several studies that show normal testosterone levels and supplementation are actually healthy for the prostate:

  1. A huge epidemiological study of 28,000+ men found that the higher the T-levels , the lower the incidence of prostate cancer. [18] John Hopkins researchers found men without prostate cancer had average T-levels of 636 ng/ml while prostate cancer patients average levels of 473. [19] The University of Utah studied 214 identical twins and found that the size of the prostate one of the curses of middle and older aged males was inversely related to T-levels. [20]
  2. One study showed that men given supplemental testosterone actually shrank their prostates! [21]
  3. Several studies have shown that the higher one s T, the better the chance of survival from prostate cancer. [22]

You may have a concern if you have heard or read that sometimes doctors will treat certain prostate cancers by decreasing androgens, i.e. signficantly lowering testosterone.  The reason that this is done is that testosterone actually suppresses t-lymphocyte immune response.  So some doctors feel that your body can more aggressively attack the prostate cancer with testosterone out of the way. As a side note, this may be why females more frequently develop autoimmune diseases:  their immune response in some cases may be too strong due to a lack of testosterone.

Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BPH)

One other worthy subject with regards to the prostate is protecting yourself against prostate enlargement, which leads to difficulty urinating and a host of other problems.. Current research shows that vegetables, in particular, protect against BPH. One recent study [23] showed that vegetables rich in lutein, beta-carotene and Vitamin C were particularly protective.  (Note:  Fruit consumption did NOT correlate with increased protection from BPH. Furthermore, getting these nutrients from supplements did not correlate well either.) But most protective are actually onions and garlic.  In one 2007 study onions decreased the risk of BPH by 60% and garlic by 30%. [24]  For more information, please read this link on Protecting Your Prostate from BPH.


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2) Science,Jan 23 1998,279:563-66

3) JAMA, 2004,291:1578-86

4)  PNAS, June 17, 2008,105(24):8369-8374

5) Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev,2006,15(2):203-10

6) Cancer Research, Jun 1 2008,68:438

7) Journal Nutrition, 136:2813-2819, 2006

8) Am J Clin Nutr, 2007 Nov, 86(5):1420-5

9) Amer Jour Epidemiology, 163:989-996, 2006

10) J Nat Canc Inst,2007,99:1200-1209

11) Cancer Res 2007 Mar1,67(5):2239-46;J Biol Canc,2005 Mar 11,280(10):8756-64

12) Cancer Causes Control,2002 Dec,13(10):947-55

13) Clin Cancer Res,Jul 1 2006,12(13):4018-26

14) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005 Oct 11;102(41):14813-8

15) Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev,2007,16:63-69

16) Jour Clin Invest 117(7):1866-1875, Jul 2 2007

17) Amer Jour Clin Nutr 2007,85:523-9

18) Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers Preview, v.6, 1997, p967-9

19) Prostate, v.27, 1995, p. 25-31

20) Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, v82, 1997, p571-5

21) Int l Journal of Andrology, v.25,2002, p119-125

22) Cancer Research v.59,1999, p4161-4; Amer Journal of Clinical Oncology v20,1997,p605-8;Journal of urology, v163, 2000,p824-7; Prostate v47, 2001, p52-8; Journal of the American medical Assoc, v276, 1996, p1904-6

23) Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;85(2):523-9

24) UUrology,2007,70:672-676

25) Amer J of Epidem,2008,167(1):71-77

26) PLoS ONE, 2008, 3(7):e2568

27) Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prev, Nov 1, 2007, 16:2213, “Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs and Advanced Prostate Cancer Incidence in a Large U.S. Cohort”

28) Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009, 18:2807-2813, “Men with low serum cholesterol have a lower risk of high-grade prostate cancer in the placebo arm of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial”

29) Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009; 18:2814-2821, “Prediagnostic total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and risk of cancer”

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2009;18:2805-2806, 2807-2813, 2814-2821

31) Harvard Men’s Health Watch, June 2007


33) newscenter/stories/2010/11/soy-prostate-cancer.html, Northwestern University Newscenter, Nov 8 2010, “Soy May Stop Prostate Cancer Spread: Experimental soy-based drug shows benefits in men with localized prostate cancer”

34) The Lancet, 1 January 2011, 377(9759):31-41,”Effect of daily aspirin on long-term risk of death due to cancer: analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials”


36) JAMA, 2011, 306(14):1549-1556, “Vitamin E and the Risk of Prostate Cancer The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT)”

37) J Natl Cancer Inst, 2000 Dec 20, 92(24):2018-23, “Association between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, selenium, and subsequent prostate cancer”


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