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Prostate vs. Plants

All men should consider eating a prostate-healthy diet, which includes legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soy); certain vegetables (like garlic and onions); certain seeds (flax seeds); and the avoidance of refined grains, eggs, and poultry.

September 21, 2012 |
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According to a recent review, the most notable development in the epidemic of prostate enlargement and lower urinary tract symptoms is the recognition that modifiable lifestyle factors substantially influence the natural history of these conditions. There are some factors associated with increased risk—obesity, diabetes, meat and fat. And some associated with decreased risk—exercise moderate alcohol consumption, and vegetables.

Which vegetables? Garlic and onions appear to help—I like how they call them onion users. Cooked vegetables appear to work better than raw, so maybe it’s the carotenoids. And legumes were also found protective—peas, beans, and lentils.

 

And flax seeds appear so powerful they may both prevent and treat the condition. A randomized double blind placebo controlled clinical trial that found that flax phytonutrients not only alleviate BPH symptoms, but their efficacy appeared comparable to the drugs we spend a billion dollars on, without the side effects.

 

Flaxseeds also work against prostate cancer. These researchers had men who were about to get their prostates removed eat 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds a day for the few weeks before surgery. They were skeptical that they would observe any differences in tumor biology between the flaxseed-fortified diet-treated patients and the controls with such a short-term dietary intervention, but they found significantly lower cancer proliferation rates and significantly higher rates of apoptotic cell death, the cancer cell suicide I've talked about. Thus, these findings suggest that a flaxseed-sup- plemented, low-fat diet may have an effect on prostate cancer biology that may be mediated through a hormonal mechanism.

 

Just a few things have been found associated with significantly increased risk for the disease: refined grains, like white bread, eggs, and poultry, which appeared even worse than red meat or desserts!

 

“Although these data are observational and [more research is necessary], there is little, if any, downside to promotion of healthy lifestyle interventions – weight loss, exercise, decreasing meat and fat intakes, and increasing vegetable intake – among those with prostate problems, particularly since these interventions possess proven benefits to overall and cardiovascular health.”

And how about before you're a prostate patient? Lifestyle habits associated with a decreased risk of developing clinical BPH are also highly likely to be beneficial in reducing the risk of erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. For this reason, urologists should encourage all men to undertake a prostate-healthy lifestyle.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

For background on BPH (enlarged prostate), a condition that affects millions of men, see yesterday's video-of-the-day Some Prostates Are Larger than Others. If flax seeds alone can so dramatically affect prostate cancer cell growth, what about an entire diet based on plants? See Developing an Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay and Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both?. In the next video-of-the-day Prostate Versus a Plant-Based Diet, that same question will be explored for BPH. What else can flax seeds do? See Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan Intake, Flax and Fecal Flora, and Just the Flax, Ma'am. What about garlic and onions? See New Mineral Absorption Enhancers Found, Pretty in Pee-nk, and #1 Anticancer Vegetable. We've seen the poultry's-the-worst story before: EPIC Findings on Lymphoma, Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or Antibiotics?, Poultry and Penis Cancer, and Poultry Exposure and Neurological Disease.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Treating an Enlarged Prostate With DietVegan Men: More Testosterone But Less Cancer Pollutants in Californian Breast TissueFlaxseeds for Prostate Cancer, and Treating Breast Pain with Flax Seeds

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

    For background on BPH (enlarged prostate), a condition that affects millions of men, see yesterday’s video-of-the-day Some Prostates Are Larger than Others. If flax seeds alone can so dramatically affect prostate cancer cell growth, what about an entire diet based on plants? See Developing an Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay and Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both?. In the next video-of-the-day Prostate Versus a Plant-Based Diet, that same question will be explored for BPH. What else can flax seeds do? See Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan Intake, Flax and Fecal Flora, and Just the Flax, Ma’am. What about garlic and onions? See New Mineral Absorption Enhancers Found, Pretty in Pee-nk, and #1 Anticancer Vegetable. We’ve seen the poultry’s-the-worst story before: EPIC Findings on Lymphoma, Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or Antibiotics?, Poultry and Penis Cancer, and Poultry Exposure and Neurological Disease.

    If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Just the Flax Ma’am!  said Joe Friday!  TGIF (Thank God For Flax!)

  • Rick

    Great video.  Aside from limiting the side effects of an enlarged prostate, are there any plant based foods that can actually shrink it?  What is feeding prostate growth?

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

       Studies at this time only point to decreasing growth and not actually reversal. Hopefully future studies will answer your question so stay tuned for the latest in science. For now we will have to limit the growth of our prostates and lower our risk of prostate cancer by eating well. We want to avoid if possible the one proven way to reduce prostate size… surgeries such as TURP’s! Best wishes.

      • Rickfla

        Thank you, Dr. Forrester!  I appreciate it.  Would female hormones shrink it over a short period of time, lets say a year?  Drastic I know, but I was just wondering.     

        • zzgorme

          I find eating a few Indian Gooseberries (Amla) a day has an enormous effect.

  • Traxmom

    This is soooo timely! My stepdad was just diagnosed with enlarged prostate at 82 years old. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Jo

      Ditto! A very timely study indeed. 

  • Shane

    Dr Greger – Do you have an opinion on CHIA seeds ?

    Like flaxseeds they are also high in omega 3 fatty acids but have advantages of less susceptible to rancidity and unlike flax don’t need to be ground to get the benefits.

    • Thea

       Shane:  I am not speaking for Dr. Greger.  However, I thought you might be interested to know that Dr. Greger does have a video on Chia seeds.  Take a look and see if that answers your question.

    • Toxins

      Check out this video on Chia vs flax here
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/flaxseeds-vs-chia-seeds/

  • Rckamen2

    You are a bright burning candle of light, Dr. Gregor! As a practicing nurse, I am so happy to hear an MD trying to PREVENT disease and offer non harming ways of relieving it! Bravo to you! thank you!

  • George

    Dear Dr Greger

    Thanks for your usual dose of useful info. Are transcripts of your videos available?

    All the best –george

  • Skimelman

    Should we freshly grind the flax seed, use flax seed whole, or is the
    flax meal ok.  Thank you-Steve

    • Thea

       Skimelman:  The one think you do not want to do is eat the flax seed whole, unless you chew very very carefully.  The reason is that whole flax seed passes through you without being digested.  (Dr. Greger has a video about this if you want outside confirmation.)

      So, the big question is whether to grind it fresh yourself or buy it pre-ground.  What I have heard is that ground flax seed can start to go rancid quicker than non-ground.  So, my advice is: if you decide to buy it pre-ground, try to get as fresh as possible.  Then, as Dr. Greger says, be sure to store it in an airtight container.

      FYI: Just to be safe, and because it is just so darn easy, I grind my own flax seed.

  • Air Dance

    Should ground flaxseed be eaten cold or can it be included in hot items such as oatmeal?

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/ Michael Greger M.D.

      You can apparently even boil it without losing the omega-3′s. And the anti-cancer lignans don’t appear to be affected by cooking either. Bon appétit!