Prostate cancer has been touted by some as an inevitable result of aging. That is an assumption worth questioning. Statistically, according to the National Cancer Institute, 1-in-6 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during the lifetime. While it is true that prostate cancer affects many, it is far from an inevitable fate. And there is also a body of evidence suggesting that making healthy lifestyle choices throughout life can help prevent prostate cancer.
Five safe and sustainable strategies for prostate cancer prevention:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is associated with increased risk for prostate cancer, as well as others. To maximize your success in achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, consider asking your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist who specializes in weight maintenance. In addition to assessing your diet for caloric and nutrient adequacy, nutritionists can also help you set goals for making sustainable changes to eating and activity patterns.
- Participate regularly in physical activity, as a physically active lifestyle is protective against prostate cancer. Walking counts for activity. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise, five days per is the current American College of Sports Medicine activity guideline for healthy adults under age 65. Remember, walking counts!
- Eat tomatoes, watermelon and strawberries. The lycopene these fruits contain is protective against prostate cancer. Lightly processed tomatoes, particularly those cooked with a healthy fat such as olive oil, contain more absorbable lycopene than any other food.
- Vitamin D — observational studies show that people with adequate levels of vitamin D have a decreased incidence of prostate cancer, as well as other forms of cancer. Because it is possible to get too much vitamin D, have your doctor test your vitamin D levels prior to beginning supplementation.
- Avoid excessive dietary intake of calcium (less than 2,000 mg per day from food sources). Moderate intake of dietary calcium is not shown to be harmful, and the minimum daily intake to maintain good health for most adult males is 1,000 mg per day. Getting excessive amounts of calcium from food sources, however, is associated with increased incidence of prostate cancer, possibly due to interference with Vitamin D activity. Food sources of calcium include: milk, cheese and other dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, and some fortified foods. Consider consulting with your doctor or nutritionist about whether your current diet provides you with adequate or excessive amounts of calcium.
Pair calcium rich foods with fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and tempeh. Fermented foods contain vitamin K2, which helps the body deposit calcium in the skeletal system, rather than soft tissues such as the prostate.
The key to preventing prostate cancer is making and maintaining healthy choices on a daily basis.
— Miranda Marti, ND, Lac, naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. Visit bastyrcenter.org for more information or call 206.834.4100 to schedule an appointment.