Prostate vs. Plants

Prostate vs. Plants
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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.

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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 the 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 that they may be used to 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.

Flax seeds also work against prostate cancer. These researchers had men who were about to get their prostates removed eat three tablespoons of flax seeds a day for the few weeks before surgery. They were skeptical that they would observe any differences in tumor biology between the flax seed-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 flax seed-supplemented, low-fat diet may have an effect on prostate cancer biology.

Just a few things have been found associated with significantly increased risk for the disease: refined grains, like white bread; also, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

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 the 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 that they may be used to 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.

Flax seeds also work against prostate cancer. These researchers had men who were about to get their prostates removed eat three tablespoons of flax seeds a day for the few weeks before surgery. They were skeptical that they would observe any differences in tumor biology between the flax seed-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 flax seed-supplemented, low-fat diet may have an effect on prostate cancer biology.

Just a few things have been found associated with significantly increased risk for the disease: refined grains, like white bread; also, 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Dr. T. M. Joseph 

Doctor's Note

For background on BPH (enlarged prostate), a condition that affects millions of men, see 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 Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both? and Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation BioassayProstate vs a Plant-Based Diet explores that same question for BPH. What else can flax seeds do? See Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan IntakeFlax and Fecal Flora; and Just the Flax, Ma’am. What about garlic and onions? See New Mineral Absorption Enhancers FoundPretty in Pee-nk; and #1 Anticancer Vegetable. We’ve seen the poultry’s-the-worst story before: EPIC Findings on LymphomaPoultry and Penis CancerPoultry Exposure and Neurological Disease; and Chicken Dioxins, Viruses, or Antibiotics?

For further context, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Treating an Enlarged Prostate With DietVegan Men: More Testosterone But Less Cancer Pollutants in Californian Breast TissueFlax Seeds 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.

43 responses to “Prostate vs. Plants

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  1. 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.




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  2. I have an enlarged prostate.  I was obese for many years, and I suppose that has contributed to it.  I have lost a lot of weight and am well into the normal weight range. My stomach is far flatter than it was.  I have read that abdominal fat can contribute to BPH. I exercise everyday. But I still have the enlarged prostate.  I could not stand the side effects of the drug. So, instead, I eat two tablespoons of flaxseed each day with my oatmeal.  I also consume one ounce of pumpkin seeds each day for the zinc.  I also eat two or three Brazil Nuts daily for the Selenium.  I eat greens everyday.  I also take this natural prostate supplement that has Saw Palmetto and Pygeum along with some other unpronounceable herbal ingredients.  This supplement does seem to help the symptoms a bit.  Pure Saw Palmetto didn’t seem to help.  Saw Palmetto probably has to be mixed with other ingredients, such as Pygeum to be more effective. I think naturally reversing an enlarged prostate may be even harder than naturally lowering cholesterol levels.  I have lowered my cholesterol levels so far, that I no longer take the any statin drugs whatsoever. 




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  3. 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?




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    1.  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.




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      1. 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.     




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  4. 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.




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    1.  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.




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  5. 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!




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  6. The problem with poultry and red meat is not the food itself but the feed. As Michael Pollan says, “You are what what you eat eats.” Currently, livestock are fed diets rich in omega-6s. This translates into excessive omega-6s in their fat stores and cell membranes.

    The key to understanding the modern epidemics of cancer and heart disease lies in realizing that our modernized food supply is saturated with omega-6s. Either lowering overall fat intake or deliberately restricting omega-6 industrial seed oil intake can accomplish somewhat the same thing; a lower absolute amounts of omega-6s ingested and improvement in the omega-3/6 ratio.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgU3cNppzO0
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201103/your-brain-omega-3




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    1.  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.




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      1. I keep a coffee grinder handy.
        I have also heard that Flax seeds (and all other whole seeds) need to be kept refriegerated or you lose the good effects of oils within…apparently it goes rancid quickly.




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      1. should the whole flax seeds be refriegerated? I was told that at room temperature the seeds lose their potency…the oils within the seeds go rancid. That I should grind it right before eating instead of buying ground flax seeds.




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        1. Thanks for your question.

          While I couldn’t personally find a reference for this topic. I did see a MayoClinic article written by Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D in which she states:

          “Refrigerating whole seeds may extend their freshness. Whole seeds can be ground in a coffee grinder and then stored in an airtight container for several months.”

          Hope this answer helps.




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          1. The article I read said keep it in fridge as a whole seed and grind it right before consuming. Once ground the oils within start to deteriorate rapidly.




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  7. Dear Dr. Michael Greger.

    I thank you for this info. My husband just recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. But his urology DR. Said he definitely not recommend healthy diet, such as plant based whole foods to treat cancer. He said he dose not believe healthy diet. Why most DR.s are against healthy living for the cure? Seems like they only learned at meds school to give prescriptions and surgery? or are they just corroborating with pharmaceutical company?




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  8. Natural supplements and Skincare products from Xtend-Life Natural products, New Zealand
    THIS IS THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS I HAVE EVER FOUND YOU CAN READ ON THERE WHAT TO TAKE FOR BEST RESULTS JUST AN IDEA HOPE IT HELPED




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  9. Hello…just a question on the Flax Seeds. How do we eat flax seeds? I mean we need to eat with something or cook or raw. Sorry its just that I have never eaten flax seed so wanted to know.thank you. Mike




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    1. Hi Mike, its best to buy them pre ground. I find them best in oatmeal. You don’t need to cook flax before eating, its just like sesame seeds with a different taste. It is important to get them pre ground so that you can absorb whats within, otherwise you have to bite down every seed.




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    2. Mike: Some people really do like to just carefully chew raw flaxseeds. (As your other replies indicate, the seeds must be ground or carefully chewed.) But most people grind up their flaxseeds and eat them one or a combination of these ways:
      1) sprinkled on oatmeal (works great! and is my preferred method),
      2) put into smoothies (also works great if you like smoothies),
      3) sprinkled on various foods eaten throughout the day.

      For #3: Suppose your goal is to eat 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day. So, you could put some on your morning oatmeal. Some on top of your lunch salad. And some in your dinner soup or stew. Etc. Flaxseed seems to work pretty well added last minute to all sorts of dishes.

      On the question of cooked vs raw: I haven’t seen any evidence that cooking necessarily hurts the ground flaxseed, but most people tend to put their flax in cold dishes or on top of hot dishes after the food has already been cooked. (I’m talking about ensuring daily flax intake – not using “flax eggs”, in which case the flax would definitely be cooked into the food, but probably not in big enough quantity to be medicinally useful.)

      Does that help?




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    3. 1) buy it whole
      2) keep it refriegerated
      3) use a coffee grinder just for grinding these grains
      4) grind a bit and add to your waffle mix in the AM, with nutritional yeast, hemp seeds. You won’t taste it and your waffle may be very slightly chewy…but delicious all the same.




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  10. Saw Palmetto has always worked for me so long as i take a pill every other day or so. I do quite notice it when i forget for too long, then I double dose for a couple of days to eliminate symptoms. I’ll be adding flax seed to the diet next, I’d rather eat seeds than pills. I’m late 40’s, occasional omnivore-becoming veganish.




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  11. Is there any research out there connecting diet to the condition “epididymitis”. A long course of antibiotics (8-12 weeks) usually sorts it out, but then returns and who wants to be on antibiotics for ages if there is a proven alternative!




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  12. Doctor Greger can you consume flax seed ground up in a teaspoon and wash it down with water as well as ground up turmeric, or would it give you gastrointestinal problems/




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    1. Hi Jim, The studies that have found flax seeds to be protective in prostate cancer seem to show that it is the lignans contained in the whole flax seed which are phytoestrogens and therefore protective against hormone related cancers. Flax oil does not contain lignans and in addition flax oil contains alpa linolenic acid (ALA) a pure fat that depending on genetic factors, may be converted to arachadonic acid (AA) which may make prostate tumors more aggressive.
      https://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/flaxseed-prostate-cancer-risk/




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  13. Hi,
    I want to share a personal story of how the whole food plant based diet has helped me.
    The last 2years I have suffered from Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis (CBP), caused by an E.Coli infection.
    I started to follow a plant based diet the beginning of last month, but it wasn’t until July 31st that I cut out the Whey Protein shakes (didn’t click it was an animal product as I was so brainwashed by the supplement industry into believing in was a healthy product. Stupid me, I know).
    Anyway, so Monday’s are the day that I go to the doctor and check my check up and antibiotic prescription refill. But, I have been taking antibiotics almost non-stop for 2years, in turn making me resistant to 3 different types of antibiotic.
    Well, today is the end of the first week of being 100% WFPBD and my prostate pain & pelvic pain is gone, and my CBP test came back CLEAR! No E.Coli bacteria present in the sample. So, the doctor gave me a 1 week prescription of antibacterials, NOT antibiotics and she believes I am at the end of treatment but have one last check up in two weeks.
    The WFPBD is the only thing that changed in my treatment, so this is all thanks to the WFPBD!




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