Prostate Cancer again. Can you avoid it?

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Mention “cancer” and “prostate” and you have just struck terror into all the males over 50. Cancer of the prostate gland is actually very common in the Western world, with 30 percent of all males over 50 showing microscopic elements of prostatic cancer. However, this does not mean that 30 percent of men are going to progress to full blown cancer – but the “start” is there. Sobering thought.

Another interesting fact, from the files of the statisticians, is that Western males have a much higher incidence than those from South East Asia. Even more interesting is that if you then look at the male offspring of S.E. Asian immigrants to America, they have four times the incidence of prostatic cancer, compared to those S.E. Asian males that remained in their own country. This would appear to show that environment is more important than genetic inheritance, and one important part of environment is diet.

Looking further into the diet side of things, there has been shown to be a strong association between high dietary fat and prostatic cancer. The next step in the research was to examine laboratory mice with prostate cancer, feeding them diets with known levels of fat. The results were that with diets less than 21 percent fat there was regression of the tumors. The mice were thrilled!

Another dietary ingredient is called Phytoestrogen, present in grains, fruit, legumes, soy beans and vegetables. Soy is much more prevalent in the Japanese diet than in the Western. Some research has been done to compare the incidence of prostatic cancer between Japanese men and Finnish men, each taking their own “national” diets. Result? Prostatic cancer was much more common in Finnish men. Scandinavians were not thrilled.

Vitamins have caught the attention of males as well as females. They have also been explored as far as their relationship to prostate cancer is concerned. Men taking Vitamin E were found to have a 34 percent lower incidence of prostatic cancer. However, Vitamins A, C and D had no effect. Health food shops were very disappointed.

It doesn’t stop there. Selenium seems to be beneficial (recommended dose 70 micrograms per day but note that a 300 mg daily level is toxic) also, while Zinc is not. Another strange one is Lycopene, found in tomato paste and tomato sauce, which appears to have an association with decreased risk of prostatic cancer. Pizza shops gave a “Mama Mia” and increased prices by 25 percent.

With any chronic condition alternative therapies then abound. Therapies such as Saw palmetto, stinging nettle root and shark cartilage. Unfortunately there was no reliable scientific evidence to show that any of them had any role in prostate cancer prevention or treatment – despite what the “Health Food” shops would say.

So what should you males do? (You women are not at risk here, you have your own particular problem areas.) Undoubtedly there is merit in looking at a more “Asian” diet than the Western one. Decreasing fat intake will certainly help. Vitamin E – easily added with a capsule a day if you are a vitamin fan. Selenium and tomato sauce? Don’t think I’d get too excited about them at this stage. The problem with tomato sauce is that one tends to have it with high fat foods like hamburgers and chips, though taken with pizza should be fine.

However, the most important thing for all males over 50 is to have an annual check-up, including a prostate check. The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) has been looked at as a go-no go test. It isn’t, but it does give you an indicator as to how the prostate is doing. Serial PSA’s are definitely advantageous in making a definitive diagnosis.

The queue forms on the right!