Effects of Nutrition on Prostate Cancer

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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...
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