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Harvard Commentaries
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The Dietary-Prostate Connection


July 12, 2013

Prostate Cancer
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The Dietary-Prostate Connection
The Dietary-Prostate Connection
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Although little can be done to prevent prostate cancer so far, researchers are studying dietary factors that may influence the risk.
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2014-12-13

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

The Dietary-Prostate Connection
 

Most risk factors for prostate cancer can't be controlled. For example, the disease is more common among men who are older, have a family history of the disease or are African-American. How much diet influences prostate cancer risk remains unclear. Researchers have noted the following observations.

  • Saturated fat. Population studies show that Asian men living in Asia have a 2 percent lifetime risk of prostate cancer; when they move to the United States, the risk in the next generation jumps to 10 percent. One possible reason: the fatty Western diet. Some studies suggest that men who eat more animal fat may have a higher rate of prostate cancer.
  • Selenium. Earlier studies suggested that diets rich in selenium might lower prostate cancer risk. More recent studies have not confirmed this. Clearly, selenium supplements do not decrease your chance of developing prostate cancer.
  • Vitamin D. Recent studies show that men who have higher intakes of vitamin D have a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer.
  • Lycopene. Higher intake of a substance called lycopene — an antioxidant found in produce such as tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and guava — may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. However, it might not be the lycopene. Some studies have linked prostate cancer to a low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables in general.
  • Calcium. A few studies have linked prostate cancer to a higher intake of calcium, which is found mainly in dairy products.

 


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