Prostate Cancer Diet: The Importance of Nutrition

Health Professional

I recently saw a 49-year-old male in my office for an elevated PSA of 2.7 ng/ml. It was 2.4 ng/ml 3 months earlier. His father had prostate cancer. He was treated with antibiotics for mild signs of prostatitis and his PSA decreased to 2.0 ng/ml. This is considered in the normal range. He asked me a common and great question. "Is there any food or are there supplements that can help my prostate?"

Nutrition is very important to a person's health. There are many supplements, vitamins or foods that a man can take for their prostate health. Let's review some of the most popular ones.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can protect cells against free radicals. Basically, free radicals are unstable atoms in the body that have the ability to harm normal cells. If these normal cells get damaged, they can change or mutate into a cancerous cell. Cancer cells then divide, grow and spread throughout the body. There is evidence that vitamin E can block free radicals, which can prevent normal cells from mutating into cancer cells. The recommended dose is 400 milligrams of vitamin E daily. The Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study recently looked at combination of selenium and vitamin E to prevent prostate cancer. It showed that prolonged use of vitamin E reduced the risk of advanced prostate cancer.

Selenium is a mineral that also has antioxidant properties like vitamin E. Selenium binds to proteins in the body to help stabilize the membranes of the cells and block them from free radicals. There is also some evidence that selenium can prevent or slow cancer growth by enhancing the body's immune system. Selenium is taken as 200 micrograms daily. There is a large research study called the SELECT (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial) study that is investigating the combined effects of selenium and vitamin E on prostate cancer. The results of the study will be available in a few years.

Fresh leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant are steamed to produce green tea. A protein called catechin is produced in all tea leaves but is higher in concentration in green teas. Catechin has antioxidative properties like vitamin E and selenium to protect the body from free radicals. One study from China showed that drinking 3 grams of tea a day, which is about 2 cups, can reduce the progression of cancers. Unfortunately, the majority of studies on green tea are inconclusive.

It has been recommended that men take vitamin E, selenium and drink green tea daily to lower their risk for prostate cancer.