Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and the risk of this disease increases with age. The MayoClinic.com website reports that by age 50, 1 in 4 men will have some precancerous cells in the prostate gland. This cancer is generally very slow moving, so men who are diagnosed later in life usually experience death from causes other than the cancer. Statistics from the Mayo Clinic indicate that while men have a 30 percent risk of developing prostate cancer in their lifetime, they only have a 3 percent chance of dying from it. Research done at the University of Columbia Medical Center in the Department of Urology, published in 2009, linked certain dietary and supplement interventions to affects on prostate cancer screenings, showing some reductions in the speed and number of the precancerous cells during prostate-specific antigen tests, or PSAs. This was attributed to certain nutrients added into the diet. The researchers also hypothesized that prostate cancer affects men in the United States more than other regions of the world due to the consumption of fatty processed foods that lack the nutrients that are necessary for optimal functioning. Research in this area is still considered fairly new, and while no concrete conclusions have been drawn, there are large bodies of promising information that could lead to chemopreventive dietary measures.
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The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have been suggested as a possible protective agent against prostate cancer. These healthy fats are seen in abundance in both Eastern and Nordic diets, and these regions have a statistically lower rate of cancer and disease than those in the United States. Fish oil is specifically being examined in terms of its ability to slow or inhibit the progression of prostatic entraepithelia neoplasia, otherwise known as PIN. PIN is characterized as a proliferation of premalignant cancerous cells. These cells divide more rapidly than typical epithelial cells and can be determined by the PSA readings. As of March 2011, the National Institutes of Health is sponsoring two clinical trials in an attempt to determine the usefulness of fish oil in preventing prostate cancer. Fatty diets resulting from overly saturated, processed foods and excess sugars in the diet have also been associated with prostate cancer. The Mayo Clinic reports that fish oil can help to reduce high levels of triglycerides in the blood, and also to help various inflammations in the body.
Pomegranate fruit extract, which is found in pomegranate juice, is considered a potent antioxidant cocktail that may effectively slow prostate cancer cell growth and even provide the catalyst for destroying aggressive cells. Pomegranate is rich in the polyphonic compounds anthocyanin and hydrosable tannins. A study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute showed that consuming 226.8g a day during an 18-month period significantly increased the PSA doubling time, slowing the progression of prostate cancer in patients with low-grade cases.
Lycopene is a carotinoid antioxidant found in tomatoes, tomato products and other red colored fruits, and is one of the cornerstones to the Mediterranean diet. Preclinical testing of lycopene has demonstrated a variety of anti-cancer activities, including suppression of tumor cell growth. The University of Columbia Medical Center reports that three different trials were completed which indicated that 30 mg a day of lycopene significantly reduced PSA levels when taken as a supplement or in tomato sauce form. Further research is still needed to validate the total effectiveness of lycopene, and the National Cancer Institute is currently completing two clinical trials to determine if supplementing with lycopene is an effective chemoprevention strategy.
Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial
The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, or SELECT, is a large-scale clinical trial also being sponsored by the National Cancer Institute which, is following 35,000 men over the age of 50 to test the power of selenium and vitamin E, taken separately or together, and its effectiveness in preventing prostate cancer. Results should be available in 2013, but these two agents have powerful antioxidant effects and have been linked to chemopreventive measures with both lung and skin cancer, as reported in the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute" in 1998. Other agents that are being studied in the hopes of discovering chemopreventative measures include vitamin D, green-tea derived polyphenols and soy-derived isoflavones.