What works to prevent prostate cancer?
January 19, 2000
Web posted at: 10:54 AM EST (1554 GMT)
By Mari Edlin
Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. How many times have you heard that simple prescription for good health? Nonetheless, it is a primary ingredient in the prevention program for prostate cancer touted by the American Cancer Society (ACS).
While many studies espouse the powers of soy, vitamins D and E, and selenium, none have been conclusive. "The American dream is the 'cure in a pill;' I haven't found any studies that are convincing," says Arnold Aigen, M.D., a urologist with Camino Medical Group in Sunnyvale, California.
Among American men, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer after skin cancer. It's also the second leading cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer. The ACS estimates that in 1999, 179,300 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the U.S., with 37,000 deaths attributed to the disease.
Since the exact cause is unknown, prevention is difficult. Risk factors such as a man's age (risk increases over age 65), race (the disease is two times more prevalent in African-Americans than in Americans of European descent), and family history are clearly out of one's control. But the ACS does recommend a prevention game plan, despite the fact that many studies are inconclusive. Gabe Feldman, M.D., national director for prostate cancer control for the ACS, calls his prevention formula "CASTLES."
1. Cigarette use should be eliminated.
2. Animal fats should be avoided in your diet.
3. Supplements such as soy and selenium are likely to be beneficial.
4. Teas, especially green varieties with high levels of antioxidants, show promise.
5. Lycopenes -- antioxidants that help prevent damage to DNA -- are a newer dietary strategy. While tomatoes are rich in lycopenes, they should be eaten cooked in oil -- not raw or as juice -- to derive the most benefit. Other rich sources of lycopenes are red grapefruit and watermelon.
6. Take vitamin E. Vitamin E has been proven to reduce risk of developing prostate cancer by 32%. When vitamin E is taken with selenium, says Claude Gerard, chairman of the American Prostate Society, the positive effects multiply.
Vitamin E proved its worth in the 1998 "Alpha-Tocopherol Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study" by the National Cancer Institute, in which researchers set out to analyze the effects of vitamin E and beta carotene on lung-cancer prevention among male smokers. During this study, researchers found a 32% decrease in cases of prostate cancer and a 41% decrease in deaths from the disease due to vitamin E alone.
7. Screening for prostate cancer, such as with the prostate-specific antigen blood test or the digital rectal examination, can easily be part of a routine physical exam. The ACS recommends that health care providers offer a yearly prostate screening to men 50 years or older. The ACS also suggests that you discuss early prostate cancer detection individually with your doctor.
The power of soy
You may turn your nose up at the thought of soy burgers, but soy is often considered the magic potion for whatever ails you -- from cancer to heart disease. The potential of soy to prevent prostate cancer is under study and may make headlines in the near future.
Sunlight and milk: Good sources of vitamin D
Drinking plenty of milk and savoring the replenishing benefits of sunlight are two major sources of vitamin D. In the laboratory, high doses of vitamin D have reduced the growth of cancer for patients with recurring prostate cancer. Tomasz Beer, M.D., an oncologist at Oregon Health Sciences University, notes that prostate cancer is more predominant in northern latitudes where there is less exposure to sunlight.
If you really want to fortify your system with supplements, Gerard recommends you follow this daily prescription, based on the advice of William Fair, M.D., a urologist with Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City:
40 grams of soy
800 IUs (international units) of vitamin E
200 micrograms of selenium
1,000 milligrams of vitamin A
1,000 milligrams of vitamin D
Unfortunately, there is no panacea for prostate cancer -- short of being born a woman or a man who never ages -- Aigen says, tongue in cheek. But the medical community is on the right track by identifying men at high risk for developing prostate cancer, understanding what kinds of lifestyles and outside influences affect their risk, and ultimately developing effective strategies to offset the risk factors.
RELATEDS AT :
Three or More Vegetables a Day Keep Prostate Cancer Away
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Possibly Off the Hook for Prostate Cancer
American Medical Association: Understanding Prostate Cancer
National Cancer Instit
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