George Krucik, MD, MBA
The prostate is a gland that helps your body produce fluid that carries sperm from your body. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer to affect men. Early diagnosis and treatment can help increase your chance for full, stable recovery. If you do not have prostate cancer, eating a healthy diet that helps you reach or maintain a healthy weight may lower your risk for acquiring it.
Red meat provides substantially more saturated fat than lean protein sources, such as fish, chicken breasts and legumes. Men who eat a diet rich in meat are more likely to develop and die from prostate cancer, according to a report published in "Update" in 2003. Meat particularly high in saturated fat include organ meats, such as liver and kidneys; high-fat steaks; pork ribs; lamb; ground beef; dark-meat poultry; sausage; bacon; hot dogs; and luncheon meats, such as pastrami. If you enjoy red meat, choose the leanest available cuts and keep your portion sizes modest. If you have prostate cancer, lean protein sources are important for tissue repair, physical strength and immune system function during treatment and recovery.
High-fat dairy products are also high in saturated fat and linked with increased risk for prostate cancer and fatal consequences of the disease. According to research published in the "International Journal of Cancer" in February 2007, dairy products in general may increase these risks. Researchers analyzed calcium and dairy intake in relation to prostate cancer risk in 29,133 male smokers, ages 50 to 69. After 17 years of follow-ups and analysis, they found that men who consumed dairy and calcium-rich diets were more likely to develop the disease than men who did not. If you are at high risk for prostate cancer, limiting dairy products may help lower your risk. Since calcium is important for overall health, however, talk to your doctor or dietitian before cutting back significantly. Particularly high-fat varieties include whole milk, heavy cream, cheddar cheese, sour cream and whole milk products, such as butter and ice cream.
Enriched Flour/Whole Grains
Enriched flour adds calories and bulk, but little fiber and few nutrients, to many breads, cereals and snack foods. Fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, may help lower your risk for prostate cancer. Fiber also promotes fullness, which may help ease the process of weight management, lasting energy levels and digestive health. To increase your fiber intake, try replacing enriched breads, pasta, cereals and snack foods, such as pretzels and pastries, in your diet with whole grain equivalents. Enriched flour products provide useful options if you're experiencing diarrhea or your doctor recommended a low-fiber diet for other reasons, such as to delay bowel movements during recovery from surgery. If this is the case, avoid whole grain foods until your doctor suggests otherwise.
Salt and Sugar
Sugar adds sweet flavor and calories, but few nutrients, to assorted foods and beverages. Salt, though important for overall health, can increase your blood pressure and trigger gas and bloating when consumed in excess. Americans tend to consume excessive amounts of both. Limiting sugary sweets and salty foods and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, which may help protect your body from cancer and other health problems. Fruits and vegetables also supply rich amounts of fiber. Foods particularly high in salt include potato chips, crackers, french fries, canned soups and vegetables, frozen meals, and processed meats and cheeses. Common sugary items include regular soft drinks, candy, milk chocolate, pancake syrup, jelly, jam, frosting, frozen desserts, and commercially prepared pies, cakes and cookies.