Prostate vs. a Plant-Based Diet

Prostate vs. a Plant-Based Diet
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Eating a plant-based diet may protect against BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy, an enlarged prostate).

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If individual plant foods reduce the risk of prostate enlargement, what about an entire diet composed of plant foods? Here’s where the Pritikin researchers step in again. Remember how they dripped the before and after blood on prostate cancer cells? Well, they did the same thing for BPH. Took a bunch of men, put them on a plant-based diet for just two weeks, and then dripped their blood on normal prostate cells in a petri dish, and saw, as with the cancer, a significant drop in growth—and so quickly, too!

The flip side, of course, is yeah, it’s amazing you could see an effect after just two weeks on a healthy diet, but if they ended the study after just two weeks, how do you know the effect doesn’t just go away? Maybe your body accustoms itself to a healthy diet, and prostate cell growth rates start slowly creeping back up?

Well, they looked at that! They tested blood of people that had been eating plant-based diets for up to 28 years straight, and found the same thing, both against benign prostate cell growth, and as we saw, against cancerous prostate cell growth. As long as we continue to eat healthy, growth rates go down, and they stay down.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

If individual plant foods reduce the risk of prostate enlargement, what about an entire diet composed of plant foods? Here’s where the Pritikin researchers step in again. Remember how they dripped the before and after blood on prostate cancer cells? Well, they did the same thing for BPH. Took a bunch of men, put them on a plant-based diet for just two weeks, and then dripped their blood on normal prostate cells in a petri dish, and saw, as with the cancer, a significant drop in growth—and so quickly, too!

The flip side, of course, is yeah, it’s amazing you could see an effect after just two weeks on a healthy diet, but if they ended the study after just two weeks, how do you know the effect doesn’t just go away? Maybe your body accustoms itself to a healthy diet, and prostate cell growth rates start slowly creeping back up?

Well, they looked at that! They tested blood of people that had been eating plant-based diets for up to 28 years straight, and found the same thing, both against benign prostate cell growth, and as we saw, against cancerous prostate cell growth. As long as we continue to eat healthy, growth rates go down, and they stay down.

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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Wikipedia

Doctor's Note

Some Prostates Are Larger than Others introduced the problem of BPH, and Prostate vs Plants talked about which individual foods to pursue, and which to avoid. This is part of our prostate cancer series that began with Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay (which was preceded by Engineering a Cure, and followed by Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both?). I featured this series in my full-length 2012 presentation, Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death. What’s the mechanism behind the extraordinary physiological shifts that occur within weeks of eating healthy? That’s the topic I’ll turn to next.

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

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

23 responses to “Prostate vs. a Plant-Based Diet

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  1. Thursday’s video-of-the-day Some Prostates Are Larger Than Others introduced the problem of BPH and Friday’s Prostate Versus Plants talked about which individual foods to pursue and which to avoid. This is the fifth video of a 15 part series on the Developing Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay (prequel here and sequel here) that I featured in my full-length 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death. What’s the mechanism behind the extraordinary physiological shifts that occur within weeks of eating healthy? That’s the topic I’m going to turn to next.

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

    1. Growth rates of cells diminished about 13 percent on plant-based diet plus daily exercise 45-60 minutes. The cell death rates also went up but they said it wasn’t statistically significant rise. In the long-term group, however, it went up 37 percent, and I’m not sure why that wasn’t considered statistically significant (?). In the 2 week group, it also went up about 20 percent. The this is, you have to assume this all matters in determining if your enlarged prostate will shrink or just not keep growing so fast, or if it will help at all. The growth rate went from 70 down to 60, which is nice, and death rate went up 37 percent, so that could mean 97 percent reduction or almost zero net growth, if the same thing happens in the body versus in the petri dish. I tend to think it will help a lot to be on plant-based diet, and certainly to exercise daily, but not sure how much it affects prostate size. It would have been nice to get a list of foods from their study, also. I guess there’s nothing to lose by trying, and it would not be crazy to try, since this is good data.

      1. sorry this math is wrong, it should have been: 13 percent growth reduction plus 37 increase in cell death from apotosis, to give 50 percent reduction in growth net, which is not nothing, but remember the cell death number was considered insignificant by the researchers, not sure why.

      2. Statistical significance is an estimation, using mathematics about the mean and Standard Deviation, of how likely the results researchers saw in the study was real – meaning that it was a result of the treatment – versus chance. It’s not a measure of how “big” the result was. If you think about it, that’s a value judgment. Whenever you hear the word “significant” in a study – like “significant rise in cholesterol” – think statistically significant, not big.

  2. Hi Dr. Greger, thanks for all this info you make easily available for us.

    My dad (64yo) has an enlarged prostate and about 3 months ago got to the point he has now to use a catheter. I have watched all vids related to Prostate and put him on a low fat, no animal products, no refined products, heavy on flax seeds diet. I would like to know if at the point he is now, is it feasible that prostate recesses? or he must do the surgery to “fix” that and keep this new diet just to avoid it from growing again? I ask as I would not like him to be using this catheter as I have read is of high risk of infection of the urinary tract. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi There! I didn’t know the answer but we have such a wonderful team of medial doctor volunteers who said they’re sure if it actually gets smaller, but it can definitely work better with the lignans on board. Some men stop their BPH meds altogether, as talked about in this video: Prostate vs. Plants.

  3. I have BPH and have switched to a vegan diet (lots of salads and greens) also cutting way back on bread and starches. So far I have lost 25lbs in about 40 days, but my BPH symptoms (low urine flow) persist. Does the the study indicate that my bph should get better or just that it won’t get worse?

    1. I’m 65 years old. I think I was able to hold off the operation (TURP) for maybe three or four years (and was able to stop the horrendous BPH drugs) with Saw Palmetto and lycopene. I started a strict plant based diet a little over a year ago. I presume it was too little too late – I opted to have the surgery (two days ago) and it was/is no fun. The bph urine flow restriction had led to a 1″ bladder stone (regular blood in urine after bike riding) which had to be blasted out at the same time. So I’m hoping my recently new regimen will keep the resected prostate from growing too much or too quickly and that the increased urine flow will prevent a new stone from forming.

      1. Sorry to hear about your ordeal. I do think that the plant based diet really does some amazing stuff, but it takes time.
        I just got my blood test results a couple of days ago and my diabetes disappeared (195 to 90) and my PSA went from 5.6 to 3.2 in less than a year. I also have been doing a plant based diet (and maybe a slice of pizza or two every couple of weeks). Breakfast is oatmeal cooked with cranberries and hibiscus over walnuts, 2tbs flax ground seed blueberries and other fruit; spinach and watercress salads with apples and hummus for lunch, and some veg with pesto or tomato sauce w whole wheat pasta for dinner. My BPH is still there, but I am down to one nightime bathroom trip down from 3, so I am hopeful. I am thinking of adding nettle tea and green tea to the oatmeal as well to add even more prostate benefit. I’m doing a green smoothie fast to try to jumpstart my weight loss. I got down from 265 to 232, but I have been stuck there for months bouncing up and down a couple of pounds. I’m aiming for 200 by March to get me out of the obese category. Best of luck on your BPH. BTW I also have been taking 4gms Saw palmetto daily.

        1. Hi Macrumpton
          Any update on your weight loss goals? I have been WFPB for about 5 months with the goal of reducing stomach
          inches. I find it difficult to get rid of abdominal fat.

  4. I have been plant based whole food no added oil for one year. Yet I still have BPH. My urologist put me on Flomax last week. By day 4 I was so dizzy I could not stand straight, I kept losing my balance, I was terribly nauseous and dizzy. So my urologist stopped the medication. It is now 3 days since I stopped and I am much better but still have residual dizziness and balance issues. I don’t usually. I was able to bike 40 miles a couple of weeks ago so I have no issues with balance except with this pill. My blood pressure is normal. So my doctor wants to try me on Rapaflo for 30 days and expensive non generic medication he says has the least side effects of the similar medications. Actually according to what I read it has more retarded ejaculation so it is not side effect free.
    I have normally went I remember added 2 tablespoons of ground flax to my morning oatmeal. I started adding 3 tablespoons as it appears that is what Dean Ornish gives to his patients. The research on Saw Palmetto indicates it does not appear effective but some men swear by it, 160mg twice a day, but I have not added that.

    A few proedures that looks somewhat helpful, without too many side effects are urolift, and REZUM, and PAE but they have a certain degree of intervention, much less than TURP.

    I really prefer no medication and no procedure but I’m not that optimistic on a plant based diet along with ground flax as the cure.

    Any recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

  5. Ken,

    Appreciate your frustration with the various medications and potential procedures.

    I have commonly found that lowered zinc levels have an impact on my BPH patients and are also a common finding for some people on vegan diets due to poor absorption. Have you done some of the more functional styles of testing, such as the Spectracell tests to address other metabolic issues ? Consider the hydrochloric test, as it would make a change in your overall nutrient absorption.

    You mention bike riding for an extended period….. bad news…. it may be part of the irritation of the prostate. Would you consider another option or at least a change of your bike seat to one that does not impinge on the perineal area ? I too have found limited changes in patients using typical saw palmetto supplements until I focused on a high concentration quality products, such as Vital Nutrients. I find that some of the combination products seem to be more effective. As a note, none of the supplement treatments are as quick to see results as the rx’s.

    Another consideration is your hormonal health. Please take the time to evaluate this area as it too will have a direct effect. Your labs should include DHT, estradiol as well as testosterone (free and total), DHEA, and their other metabolites. Check out the Dutch test as an example.

    You can make changes once you know what’s needed, so hang in there.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com

  6. Thank you Dr. Kadish,

    I just had a urodynamics test, cystoscopy, and ultrasound of prostate. It is enlarged at 40 grams. The urologist tried to showed me on camera that the prostate was going into the bladder. But it must be to a small degree as it did not look very noticeable to me. He described the prostate as a hill going into the bladder but it looked alright to me.

    So he said my symptoms are being caused by a combination of enlarged prostate and overactive bladder. But he said there was no need to treat the bladder just the prostate and my symptoms with subside.

    His recommendation was either a button turp or green light laser. He said Urolift was sub optimal as the prostate tissue growing into the bladder would make the Urolift only 80% effective. He said I could do the Rezum procedure as an alternative but he did not do it.

    I also consulted a urologist who was also an interventional radiologist. He said he could perform a prostate artery embolization. If I go with a medical intervention I am most inclined to try the PAE as it has the least side effects.

    My bicycle saddle is divided in the middle so it does not press into the prostate. PSA 2.94 Testosterone, TOT, LC,MS/MS 826, Testosterone free 107.4

    Dr. Greger points to a double blind study out of China where BPH was reduced due to flax. My urologist discounted the study as there were only 68 subjects.

    Dean Ornish has had good luck using Flax to treat prostate disorders. Dr. Greger says in plant base cultures there is almost no BPH.

    How can I teak my plant based whole food no added oil diet so that my BPH is reduced?

  7. HI Dr Gregor – love your website and all the wonderful information. I am 71 years old and have been taking Flomax or Tamsulosin for about 10 years. I have known I had an enlarged prostrate for about 35 years. But flow only become a problem when I took some meds for a cold/flu that said, do not take if you have an enlarged prostrate. I read labels now. Dizziness is a small but manageable problem but the sexual side effects only started in the last 3 years. I started a plant based/whole foods diet about 2 years ago. After listening to one of your videos I increased my ground flax intake from 1 to 2 heaping tbsps. My morning meal is oatmeal, ground flax, walnuts, berries, banana and almond milk. When I did this my flow was great and I no longer had to get up night. After several months I tried to stop with the meds but only got 7 days. I now take a pill every second day with second day being OK but not as great as the first day. I would love to get off the meds. My Dr says my blood work is that of an 18 year old. Do I simply have to be more patient or need to increase any certain plant based food. Thanks Fred PS sorry I missed you in Winnipeg.

  8. Hello fwhitehouse!

    As a volunteer, I’m so glad that you find all the info Dr. G puts in here useful! And it’s just as great that you’ve started improving your diet with more plant-based foods.
    I think that is hard to say if you’re going to get rid of all your meds at some point, as all individuals and cases are different, but going from taking pills every day, to take them one every second day I’ll say that is a lot of improvement.

    Did you know that NF.org has a whole section about Prostate health ? You’ll find there dozens of videos that will give you some ideas about what other plant-based foods you can include in your diet.

    I hope you find them helpful

    1. Thanks I was not aware of these additional resources and some may be very useful. I will let you know if I am able to make further improvements. Adding ground flax with the meds has helped immensely.

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