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March 9, 2010
By Rory McClenaghnan, Contributing Columnist
Here's a shocker. Of all forms of cancer, prostate cancer is the second
most common cancer diagnosed in men in the US.
Every year around 200,000 men are told they have prostate cancer,
and about 30,000 die of the disease. However, years of research means
that if you catch it early, you have an excellent chance of survival.
Prevention is better than a cure, as the saying goes. There are a
number of things you can do, right now, to greatly reduce your
chances of developing an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. These
tips can not only help you prevent prostate cancer but can also help
treat or alleviate the discomfort of prostate cancer.
Where Exactly Is the Prostate?
The prostate gland sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum. As
we men age, the prostate swells in size. No one quite knows why.
Men over the age of 50 are most at risk of prostate cancer and are
likely to have symptoms like difficulty in urinating and ejaculating and
If you have these symptoms you should see your physician as a first
step, but if you take this advice you could avoid the situation getting
Here are the Top 10 tips for keeping your prostate healthy throughout
1. Get tested annually – for some men the symptoms of prostate cancer
cancer are very slight or not noticeable at all. That's why UCLA's
Jonsson Cancer Center recommends that men over 50 take a PSA blood
test and a digital rectal exam every year.
PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced in the
prostate. A high concentration of PSA is a sign you may have prostate
cancer. Digital rectal exams are used to find out if the prostate is
swollen or has any growths.
2. Keep active – as part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study,
researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (1986 - 2000)
found that vigorous exercise in men over the age of 65 has a big impact
on their susceptibility to prostate cancer. Those who regularly jogged,
swam or played sports were 67% less likely to get advanced prostate
cancer and had a 74% lower risk of death from prostate cancer, than
those who were less active. That's 67%. Big impact. So, grab the
sneakers and hit the gym, the links or the court. Do anything. But get
moving and keep moving.
3. Frequent ejaculation – the prostate is a sexual organ, it makes semen
for the body and two major studies have shown a link between sexual
activity and prostate cancer.
Research in Australia in 2003 found that men who ejaculated between
4.6 and 7 times a week had a 36% lower risk of contracting the disease
before the age of 70 than those who ejaculated fewer than 2.3 times a
So, yes, get busy. The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study supports
these findings, with a 31% lower risk of cancer among more sexually
4. Eat your greens – as ever, diet plays a huge part in disease
prevention. So let's start with the positives, one thing you should be
eating more of is vegetables.
Researchers in Seattle (2008) found men who ate four or more
portions of vegetables a day had a far lower risk of contracting benign
prostate hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is not lethal but can lead to a swollen
prostate and make life very uncomfortable for a man. It is often found
in men who later go on to get prostate cancer.
5. Tomatoes are your friend – research has shown that lycopene, an
antioxidant found in tomatoes, can lower the risk of getting prostate
As part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, of 40,000 health
workers, those who ate over ten servings of tomatoes or tomato-based
products ran a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer.
The best source of lycopene is actually processed tomato products. The
processing separates the lycopene from the tomato's cell structure and
makes it easier for the body to absorb. Tomato paste contains the most
lycopene with 42.2mg/100g.
6. Drink green tea – a Philadelphia study published in 2009, in the
Cancer Prevention Research journal has found that Polyphenon E, a
chemical found in green tea, can reduce a number of the molecules
which are indicators of prostate cancer. Levels of vascular endothelial
growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor and PSA were all lowered.
This means drinking green tea could help prevent prostate cancer and
even help to treat those suffering from the disease.
7. Coffee can help too – according to a 2009 Harvard Medical School
study, big coffee drinkers have a 60% lower risk of being victims of the
most aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
8. Go easy on the red meat – now for the foods to avoid, starting with
red meat. The National Cancer Institute revealed in 2009 that a diet
high in red meat could increase your risk of prostate cancer by as much
as 12%. Researchers believe the high heme iron content of red meat is
9. Limit your intake of eggs and poultry – studies have shown that men
with prostate cancer who eat a lot of these foods double the risk of
their cancer recurring or progressing. In 2010, researchers at the
University of California in San Francisco and Harvard tested 1,294 men
with prostate cancer and confirmed that you increase your risk of
prostate cancer recurrence by 100% if you continue to eat eggs and
Other studies have found that , in general, eating fatty diets --and
chicken and many other meats can be fatty --is strongly linked with an
increased risk of prostate cancer.
10. Use saw palmetto for a herbal treatment – saw palmetto is a palm
whose fruits are rich in phytosterols and fatty acids. Although it may
not prevent prostate cancer, studies have shown that taking saw
palmetto can reduce the uncomfortable urinary symptoms associated
with BPH (source, Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002/3).
Bonus Tip. Even after you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer,
there are things you can do. New studies have found that eating red
peppers can cause prostate cancer cells to enter a early death phase, in
effect to "suicide themselves".
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|Tomatoes should be a central part of your prostate cancer prevention diet.