En español | Two widely popular prostate cancer protection measures — PSA testing and vitamin E — were blasted recently by scientists with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advising against routine prostate cancer screening and by a new study concluding that high doses of vitamin E may actually increase — rather than decrease — the risk for prostate cancer. Those two key pieces of news have left many men wondering: Is there anything I can do to protect against this disease?
Yes. And fortunately, health-conscious men already may be taking some of the right steps to reduce their risk. "Almost every heart-healthy behavior you can imagine is associated with a lower potential risk of prostate cancer," says Mark Moyad, M.D., director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center department of urology.
Here are a man's best bets for eluding prostate cancer, according to researchers and health experts.
1. The right diet: beyond marinara sauce
For years, men who wanted to lower their risk for prostate cancer were advised to eat more cooked tomatoes, which are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that appears to fight tumors. Today some health experts say that changing your diet could cut the risk for prostate cancer by as much as 30 percent to 50 percent. "But the advice needs to be more than just 'eat tomatoes,' " says Stephen Freedland, a urologist at Duke University School of Medicine. He and other scientists are working to identify other foods that might help protect against prostate cancer. They also are looking at what foods you may want to avoid.
Fill up on:
- Fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish — especially oily varieties such as salmon and mackerel — dampen inflammation, which appears to promote prostate tumors. In one recent study, men who ate oily fish more than once a week reduced their risk for developing aggressive prostate cancer by 57 percent.
- Leafy greens. Eating several servings of spinach and other leafy greens per week may cut the risk of prostate cancer, according to recent research by genetic epidemiologist John Witte and colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco. Witte found that filling up on beans, summer squash, garlic, red peppers, berries and orange melon could help, too.
- Coffee. A recent Harvard University study found that men who drink at least six cups of coffee a day were 60 percent less likely to develop lethal prostate cancer. Fortunately, decaffeinated coffee appeared to be just as effective as the high-test variety.