Eating a “rainbow” is the best way to prevent prostate cancer

Credit: Jasmine Lin/ Pixabay

In a study from the University of South Australia, scientists found that men who eat colorful fruits and vegetables on a regular basis are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

A rainbow of foods rich in certain micronutrients helps to prevent prostate cancer as well as speed up recovery among men who undergo radiation treatment for the disease.

The findings highlight the importance of a Mediterranean or Asian diet that includes these foods.

In the study, researchers compared micronutrient levels of prostate cancer patients with a healthy control group.

They found low levels of lutein, lycopene, alpha-carotene, and selenium in PC patients and high levels of iron, sulfur, and calcium in the cancer group, relative to controls.

Increased DNA damage after radiation exposure was also linked to low lycopene and selenium in blood plasma.

The team found men with blood levels lower than 0.25 micrograms (ug) per milliliter (mL) for lycopene and/or lower than 120ug/L for selenium have a higher risk of prostate cancer and are likely to be more sensitive to the damaging effects of radiation.

Foods that are rich in lycopene include tomatoes, melons, papayas, grapes, peaches, watermelons, and cranberries. Selenium-rich foods include white meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, and nuts.

The team says eating foods that are naturally rich in lycopene and selenium is preferable to taking supplements, where the benefits are limited, according to previous studies.

Their recommendation is to adopt a Mediterranean diet enlisting the help of a dietician because people absorb nutrients in different ways, depending on the food, the digestive system, the person’s genotype and possibly their microbiome.

Prostate cancer remains one of the most common and fatal cancers in men, but the nutritional deficiencies associated with it remain largely unknown, hence this study.

Other risk factors, such as ethnicity, family history and age have previously been linked to prostate cancer.

There is strong evidence that being overweight and tall increases the risk of prostate cancer. Diets high in dairy products and low in vitamin E may also increase the risk but the evidence is less clear.

Vitamin E is found in plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

If you care about prostate cancer, please read studies that dairy foods may increase risk of prostate cancer, and new strategy to treat advanced prostate cancer.

For more information about prostate cancer, please see recent studies about new way to lower risk of prostate cancer spread, and results showing three-drug combo boosts survival in metastatic prostate cancer.

The study was conducted by Dr. Permal Deo et al and published in the journal Cancers.

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