Diet and Prostate Cancer

Danish Mazhar

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy in men in industrialized countries and the second leading cause of male cancer-related death. Given the trebling of death rates in the last 30 years and the relative lack of a survival benefit from the treatment of advanced disease, it is critical that we look at preventative stratagems to reduce death rates. Although aging is the most significant risk factor for prostate cancer with a virtually exponential increase in age-related incidence and mortality, prostate cancer is also characterized by a marked variation in its worldwide incidence. Superficially, it would seem to be difficult to separate environmental factors from racial factors in explaining this difference in the incidence of this tumor, but studies of migrant populations suggest that environment is overwhelmingly more significant than genetics in the origins of this cancer. For example, when migrants from a low-risk country such as Japan move to the United States, a high-risk nation, their prostate cancer incidence and mortality become severalfold higher than native Japanese counterparts [1]. Moreover, a positive correlation exists between the number of years since migration to the United States and cancer risk [2]. Diet is one of the environmental factors suspected to play a role in the etiology of prostate cancer. High dietary intakes of diary products, meat, and fat, and low consumption of tomatoes, selenium, and vitamins D and E have all been associated with higher prostate cancer risk.

Is the current balance of laboratory, epidemiological and clinical data strong enough to prove a direct relation between diet and prostate cancer? Does it already warrant dietary modifications or the use of nutritional supplements? Are we currently in a position to advise men about how they can minimize their risk of developing prostate cancer by manipulating what they eat?

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