Doctor's Note

The reference to diet affecting the growth of prostate cancer is covered in Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay, with a follow-up in Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both? Also see Just the Flax, Ma’am, in which flax seeds were found to work as well as the leading drug, without any of the adverse side effects. In Prostate vs. Plants, I explore other foods that have been found to help. Prostate vs. a Plant-Based Diet covers the replication of the prostate cancer experiments with normal prostate cells, to see if eating healthier can also slow their growth. I also have many more videos on women’s health, compared to men’s health, but this prostate series helps close the gap!

For further context, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Treating an Enlarged Prostate With DietVegan Men: More Testosterone But Less Cancer; and Flax Seeds for Prostate Cancer.

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  • The reference to diet affecting the growth of prostate cancer is covered in Tuesday’s Developing an Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay, with a follow-up in yesterday’s video-of-the-day Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both?. Until today I only had one BPH video, Just the Flax, Ma’am, in which flax seeds were found to work as well as the leading drug without any of the adverse side effects. In tomorrow’s video-of-the-day, Prostate Versus Plants, I’ll explore other foods that have been found to help. Then on Monday, Prostate Versus a Plant-Based Diet, will replicate the prostate cancer experiments with normal prostate cells to see if eating healthier can also slow their growth. I have more than twice as many videos on women’s health compared to men’s health, but these next few days will help close the gap!

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

    • Jo

       Thank you Dr. Greger! I’ve been encouraging my boyfriend to … um, masturbate to decrease his prostate size (as discovered/researched on the TV show “The Doctors” website.

      He’s battling bladder cancer, and apparently had an enlarged prostate during his last TURBT (trans-urethral resection of a bladder tumor) that left him in more pain than needed — the doctors, residents and interns had to use multiple catheter tubes to get the right fit.

      Am looking forward to your other videos in this series.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      As you have probably discovered in your own practice.  I have many patients who have BPH and guess what.  The ones who change to a plant based diet always improve there ability to urinate and many reverse their frequency and urgency problems eliminating their need for drugs such as Proscar and Flowmax.
      The same goes for ED.  I have many men who have problems with erectile dysfunction and those who change to, and follow, the strictest low-fat, Whole Food Plant Based diets have the most freedom when it comes to having spontaneous sexual encounters without the use of drug foreplay.

      • jnitro

        I was on meds for BPH and they kind of work, with a reduction in night time visits to the bathroom. I then switched to taking two Saw Palmetto capsules just before bed, and then in the morning. Works for me ! I now sleep the entire night without waking up a single time. Not only did this do the trick but there are other known health benefits from Saw Palmetto as well.

        • ron

          Did you take the saw palmetto at the same time as your meds? How old were you? I am 82 on the meds but up sometimes 4-5 times at night.

  • Thanks for another great video. Note: the link to this page from the Youtube video is incorrect.

  • Veggie247

    It would be interesting to know for this and other conditions brought about by poor diet how reversible they are. My understanding from reading Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s work is that inflammation of the circulatory system can be reversible rapidly (e.g., starting at six weeks from initiation of a healthy diet), but the prospects for cancer and perhaps BPH as well as are more gloomy (though I’d also hazard a guess that switching to a healthy diet could help prevent worsening of the condition or slow its progression).

    Huge thanks to Dr. Greger for posting these videos. My family and I are hooked on them!

  • Thea

    This video had me squirming and I’m not even male.

  • Frank

    Your video mentions TVP, suggesting that it may be nutritious for prostate health.  Dr. McDougall’s website indicates that it is harmful and should be avoided: .  What do you suggest for people considering eating food products made from TVP or other soy derivatives?

  • R Ian Flett

    Very interesting and well presented. I look forward to the rest.
    With the latest ultrasound equipment you can have your prostate volume measured accurately, quickly, and cheaply without even removing your pants. These ultrasounds have also uncovered a wide variation in family physicians’ ability to estimate BPH via a DRI. It really pays to get second opinions.

    The Asian epidiemiological evidence certainly supports the diet theory, but exactly what it is in the diet is not so clear.  I’ve found amongst friends and myself who have recently had these ultrasounds that there is no justice. The smallest volume by far was a friend who has eggs and bacon every day for breakfast and meat and few veg for most meals. Meanwhile the vegetarian/exercisers had expanded prostates. Not exactly good science, but a surprising result.

    We know that genetics plays a big part, but research has not yet unravelled the critical components of the Western diet that most promote BPH. Soy and sugar are big variables in the East/West comparison. Recent studies have played down the effectiveness of lycopene and saw palmetto supplements. A German urologist friend swears by stinging nettle (Urtica Dioica), yet non German studies rate it poorly.

    Inflammation is certainly a candidate and the Western sexual revolution from the 60s onwards may also be an important inflammatory variable through long term undetected STIs. It’s a tough call. Dr Greger is right to call it an epidemic and an expanding prostate with age should not be considered ‘normal’ despite the fact that it’s statistically normal.

  • Rick

    Can eating a plant based diet improve the symptoms of BPH, or is it too late?

    •  Stay tuned Rick!

      • Danny

        So has there been any new info on TVP?

    • Wade Patton

      YES! see my comments (3 years later). WFPB fixed me right up (plus flaxseed).

  • Guest

    I see old men (80´s) in my family are having the prostate removed. They eat healthy although as argentines we eat meat (not as much as some time ago). I won´t go vegetarian but would cosider improving diet/adding supplements in case if later in life I develop BHP. It seems Drs prefer to operate if the patient do not respond to drugs and prevent future problems and to avoid the risks of surgery in old age. Of course there is money involved. This is like tonsilectomy or appendixsectomy in the 60´s.

  • what about bladder cancer?

  • Adamtgardener

    I love your humor…realizing that you have a task of teaching through studies…and can offer no “medical” advice to people attempting to understand their “enigmas” in how to get out of their disease…I would like to add some common sense to all this “stuff” about the prostate.

    In the human body is what I refer to as the forgotten blood flow. It doesn’t move “blood” through veins, arteries and capilaries it moves the blood plasma through the lymph system. This little known circulatory goes everywhere and is responsible for critical functions to eliminating toxic buildup in key organs…especially the male prostate and the female mammary organs. The lymph collects around these two “reproductive” organs to facilitate keeping “things” as pure as possible. Likewise, the lymph nodes along this circulatory system are key and essential to identifying and eliminating cancer cells. 

    Overwhelmed by the sad diet with its overwhelming use of animal fat rather than rich, wonderfully pure, whole, organic plant oils…this system gets backed up and before you know it cancer is taking hold in all kinds of places. Keeping this circulatory system clear, clean and functioning optimally is as easy as moving to a organic plant based diet, exercise and skin brushing. 

    Skin brushing daily or at least with some frequency is even more important that a person’s daily ritual of bathing or showering. This routine should be common knowledge in our culture and it is not. It becomes even more vital when people continue to refuse to change their diets in the face of enormous evidence that a change in diet is effective at many levels.

    • Adamtgardener

      As a continued footnote to exercise…the reasoning behind the success of exercise and a stronger ability to fight off cancer cells is that strenuous exercise…exercises the lymph vessels and nodes…causing that system to function more efficiently. A primary function of lymph nodes is to identify, isolate and destroy cancer cells. But the nodes and vessels need cleaning and that is where exercise is so important in doing this. Especially when skin brushing is so little understood…but then so is the interplay between exercise and its powerful effects on cleaning the lymph system.

  • WholeFoodChomper

    Like Frank below, I am also interested in hearing what your opinion is regarding TVP and other isolated soy proteins. I have just finished reading “The Fat Vegan” chapter in Dr. McDougall’s _The Starch Solution_ and he is pretty clear about staying away from the stuff: “Removing meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, and dairy are well recognized dietary changes that lower IGF1 levels. Isolated soy proteins should be added to the top of that list.” What do you think the scientific evidence indicates? Is it safe to eat TVP and isolated soy proteins?

  • Wade Patton

    Had been dealing with prostate enlargement for some number of years with Saw Palmetto. And sometimes I’d forget to take it for a two or three days, which would invariably lead to becoming symptomatic again. I’d then have to double dose for a couple of days to get back to normal, but would have to suffer those two days of symptoms before things got better.

    SINCE changing to a 98% WFPB diet with flaxseed daily, I’ve completely ditched the need for Saw Palmetto (and PPI’s) and simply don’t have “gaps in coverage”. I’m also quite sure my testosterone level has increased and cancer risk has dropped.

    It’s real simple: less animal products equals more health.


    • David J

      Just curious – is your diet low fat? I’m on a WFPB diet and have BPH. Since I eat lots of nuts/seeds including flaxseed for my prostate, my diet is not low fat (probably ~ 25% of calories on average). It’s not clear to me if fat from nuts/seeds would be a factor, as opposed to sat fats from animal foods and fats from oils. So I was wondering what your experience has been,

      • Wade Patton

        I don’t count fat/carb/calories so I can’t be sure. BUT I eat nuts every day, I eat flaxseed nearly every day. I eat “junk” a few times on the weekends, so I’m guessing not-low-fat. I eat avocados too. When I started consuming flaxseed daily, I was able to quit taking Saw Palmetto daily. If I forget flaxseed for more than a day or two, symptoms return, but not as quickly as when I was only taking the SP. I eat a lot of potatoes, beans, and rice too.

        • David J

          How much flaxseed do you use? (I assume you grind it.)

          • Wade Patton

            Gotta grind it, otherwise it passes right through. Also “pre-ground” flaxseed meal is great-just won’t keep as long.

            I shoot for a tablespoon or two per day. Roughly.

          • David J

            Thanks. Right, I do grind it (and store it in the freezer).

    • ron

      I have 2 tablespoons flax seed every morning with a healthy breakfast smoothie for almost 3 years now and have suffered the night time urination for 17 years. I am currently on Finasteride and 2 capsules Tamsulosin. I don’t get any improvememt. I follow a mostly vegetarian diet. I am 82 and tired. I tried a prostate supplement from Life Extension but had to go back to pharma. Any suggestions appreciated.

      • Wade Patton

        Increase your flaxseed intake-use them in any bread-type product you make, sprinkle them over any thing. They go with everything. Try the Saw Palmetto as well. I have zero experience with any sort of pharmaceutical in this area. Just know for a fact that Saw Palmetto and ground flaxseed work for me. Flaxseed also has other whole-plant-food benefits and my system responds to it quicker than Saw Palmetto-which is an unregulated health-store sort of thing, so you mileage WILL vary depending on brand and such because these “non pharm” things tend to vary wildly in their potency. I’m only 50, but started “noticing” prostate issues about 10 years ago. Saw Palmetto took care of it most of the time since then. I’ve only been WFPB (94%) for a year and a half now. That is also when I switched to flaxseed. Sorry, but I don’t keep up with my exact dosage. Often I’ll just EAT a handful…mmm.

        • ron

          When I tried stopping the meds and took the prostate supplement ( it has 320 mg of saw palmetto) plus alot of other ingredients, like Graminex, Beta -sisterol, and others but could only take for a month (they say takes as long as 3 months? Hard to stop meds and wait, so went back on meds.

          • Wade Patton

            Well we’re all different and I’m not in the bidness of fixing folks, so I’ve not examined a lot of cases that aren’t me.

            I’d still up my ground flax seed intake for a week or two. I did go read some more about Saw Palmetto, and because the “active ingredient” levels of supplements tends to vary wildly, I’d try to source whole berries of the Saw Palmetto and not fool with the capsulized stuff.

            Both of those work for me and both take a few days to “resolve symptoms”. The Saw Palmetto being the slower of the two. If I forgot to take it for more than one day, I’d get symptoms. Then I’d double dose for two or three days in order to get back to “normal”.

            My “tiredness” went away when I went WFBP 100% for two days. You say you eat mostly WFPB, how exactly? Are you eating small amounts of animal products daily, weekly, monthly? Or is it processed/sugar/oils that is your “transgression” against WF?

          • ron

            I’l still have some organic turkey in a sandwich once every week or two.A meatball with pasta every couple weeks or organic chicken breast in pecan crust (my wife makes). I stil have a couple eggs every week or two. My major goal in past 3 years was to get my Aic down.I wasn’t diabetic but swore I never would be. My A1c is now 5.7.

          • Wade Patton

            Okay I don’t know about A1c’s but do think that you need 4 or 5 continuous POD’s (plants only days) to feel the “goodness” they produce. Otherwise the inflammation from AP may be using up too much of your built-in pain relief. I pretty much keep the weekdays and often Saturday WFPB, veering off path only for weekends or holidays (which happily coincide mostly) or fiestas. Congratulations on your 82, hang on I’ll be there in a minute. 8-D

  • JunkFoodVegan

    What Cause Burning Sensation After Ejaculation??

    I’m angry that no one even bother to give it a official medical name! many men experience this!

  • RDUB

    I am at my witts end. I have had urinary urgency for over 4 years when I was 29 years old. I had already been strict vegan for 4 years prior and it came on in one night. I have had numerous tests done like a cystoscopy, MRi, ultrasound, BPH, Urodynamic testing, STD testing (even though I hadnt been sexually active for years) and A1C1. No one has been able to figure why I have this problem. Everything checks out. I dont know what to do. I have seen naturopaths too. I went raw for 3 weeks, I did an all fruit diet, I have fasted for 3 days, and now I am getting checked for heavy metal poisoning and food allergies. I wake up so many times a night, I can barely function. I just need help.

  • GuyGreen

    Here’s my story from my visit to the urologist. Talk to him avout Saw Palmeto. Did not really know much about, apart from the name of that plant, but bluntly said that: “it’s a Natural supplement and like all Natural supplement, their use is not based on scientific research and therefore no one really knows their benefit. ”

    I think i will buy him Dr. Greger’s book!!

    Where can i find scientific papers on saw palmeto?