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.
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.
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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 Diet, Vegan Men: More Testosterone But Less Cancer, Pollutants in Californian Breast Tissue, Flaxseeds for Prostate Cancer, and Treating Breast Pain with Flax Seeds
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