Prostate cancer is a leading killer and it doesn't have to be, because if we take lessons from around the world and people who follow different kinds of diets, we get clues about how we can actually reduce the likelihood that this will happen in our own lives. And for men who already have prostate cancer, there's a lot they can do to hold it beyond arm's length.
HOST: Halo, active viewers, and welcome to Healthy Living. On today's program, renowned medical professionals will discuss the links between diet and prostate cancer, which in recent years has grown to almost epidemic proportions, especially in developed countries. It is now the world's fourth most common form of malignancy [cancerous tumor] among men, with some 400,000 new cases being diagnosed annually.
Recent scientific evidence suggests that diet plays a major role in the development, progression and deadliness of prostate cancer, with increased risk being linked to the consumption of meat, dairy products and fat. Now let's hear what the experts have to say about reducing the risk and even reversing the development of prostate cancer through a plant-based diet.
Dr Saxe (m): There's a project which looked at the effect of intervening with a plant-based diet in men who have had prostate cancer in which the cancer has come back, in spite of surgery and other primary treatment. And these men are at risk.
Those who have had recurrences or recurrent prostate cancer are at greatly increased risk of dying of the disease, developing metastatic disease [spread of disease from diseased organ to other parts of body] far away from the prostate that can be very painful, cause other symptoms, and can lead to premature death.
So there's unfortunately no really good, effective curative treatment, after the primary therapy has already been attempted and has been unsuccessful, and the best we can do is to try to prolong life and palliate symptoms, using things like hormonal therapies. But clearly there is a need for re-thinking this whole problem.
Many men are going to be developing this condition, especially as the population of the country ages, as it's a disease that occurs in older men most often. So, one of the things that we've looked at is the very important role, potentially of diet, not only in causing prostate cancer in the first place, but also in possibly promoting its progress, even after a person has developed the condition.
HOST: According to many healthcare experts, diet and lifestyle play a major role in developing cancer of the prostate.
Dr Saxe (m): If you look around the world, there are stunning differences in the rate of prostate cancer. If you compare the United States with say, China, the rate of prostate cancer is something in the neighborhood of 80, maybe 100 times greater in the United States than it is in China.
And yet, when you look at people from Asian countries, like China or Japan, who migrated to the United States, their rates within a generation are almost identical to those in the US.
So, that to me suggests it's not something genetically different about Asians compared with Caucasians, but rather that there's something in our environment here that's different than the environment in the Asian countries.
And when we look at that, and when we've done epidemiologic and other kinds of research, what we've typically found is that it points toward diet. And it points maybe also toward some other behavioral things, sedentary versus exercise, maybe psychological factors and stress, but most importantly I think is diet.
And the main thing, when you look at the diet is people in those countries are eating at the bottom of the food chain, they're eating largely plant-based diets, they can't afford refined foods, and they can't afford lots of meat and other things that use plant resources intensively to be produced. So that's what they're eating, and this is what we're eating, and I think we're suffering in part because of that.
Dr. Slywitch: There was a study published with 34,000 (Seventh Day) Adventist people.
It was observed that people who eat meat had an 88% higher chance of having large-intestine cancer, and 54% higher chance of prostate cancer.
These two were the most significant ones.
HOST: Scientific research also suggests a strong link between the consumption of milk, cheese and other dairy products and the risk of getting prostate cancer. In countries such as Thailand, Japan and China, where men consume almost no milk or milk products, the rate of prostate cancer is substantially lower than in those such as Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, which have high levels of dairy consumption.
A study involving 48,000 health professionals conducted at Harvard University in the US found that participants who consumed more than two glasses of milk a day had about a 60% greater risk of developing prostate cancer than did those who consumed no dairy products.
Dr Saxe (m): Dairy intake has been associated with not only an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, but an increased risk of dying of prostate cancer.
Jay Sutliffe, Ph.D. (Vegan) - Public health and nutrition expert, Assistant Professor, Chadron State College, USA: Some of the specific cancers that we see in the world today, is we see a lot of breast cancer for women, and we see a lot of prostate cancer for men. And what we are finding is that when a person is consuming large amounts of caseinate, the dairy protein found in milk products, we are finding that when we have an elevated intake of caseinate from dairy products, it's a very volatile protein that actually sets the stage for breast cancer and also prostate cancer.
So what I would say is that we really need to be looking at how much caseinate or milk protein that we're taking in. And I'd say that we should try to minimize that or really try to eliminate that, especially if there is a family history of breast cancer, and prostate cancer in your families.
HOST: In the UK, researchers at Oxford University found that men who adhered to a vegan diet had insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels nine percent lower than those of men eating animal products. IGF-1, a growth hormone, is believed to play a key role in causing prostate cancer.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD - Physician and Director, US National Health Association: The modern world is fanatic about consuming protein. They've been brain-washed about eating too much protein. And the excess protein, even from egg whites, even from white-meat animal products, even from skim milk could increase the risk of a hormone in the tissues called IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor 1.
And that's what I'm saying is that the raising of insulin-like growth factor 1 promotes prostate cancer and breast cancer.
HOST: Some mistakenly believe that it's safe to eat fish. However, a recent study entitled “A prospective study of diet and prostate cancer in Japanese men” revealed that fish intake is also associated with an increased risk of acquiring cancer of the prostate.
The research, which involved 18,115 Japanese men, revealed that men who ate fish products four or more times a week had a 54% higher risk of getting the disease than did those who did so fewer than twice during the same period.
Besides the evidence that a plant-based diet can reduce the potential for getting prostate cancer, research also shows it can even prevent the disease from ever occurring. According to a recent study by the US-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, men who eat three or more servings of vegetables a day have a 48% lower risk of acquiring the disease than do those who eat less.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage were found to have the strongest effect. It's believed that the phytochemicals in vegetables activate enzymes in the body that weaken cancer-causing agents.
Dr. Sutliffe (m): We want to start taking in a lot of foods from the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts, we start looking at those. We want to look at Napa cabbages, all different cabbages, bok choi, [Chinese cabbage] and these different foods. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables with lots of color.
The color represents nutrients, and that's what we want to be consuming, is a lot of vital chemicals, a lot of anti-oxidants. We want to make it fun. Do a variety of foods, have good, different combinations, and different things like that. And then we also want to look at including some soy foods. We want to bring in some soy-based foods; those can also help with our cancer reduction.
HOST: The list of vegetables that can prevent the occurrence of prostate cancer in the first place keeps growing. For example, tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, and it's been shown that men who consume two servings of the vegetable per week are about 23% less likely to get prostate cancer than are others, and those who eat 10 or more servings have a 35% reduction in their likelihood.
Dr. Sutliffe (m): We see a lot of things looking for the cure for cancer. When we look at the American Cancer Society, they recommend eating a minimum of seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Now, when we look across America, the average American does not eat even five a day. We see that only 23% of Americans are eating five servings of a combination of fruits and vegetables a day.
So, if we are really serious about minimizing our risk for cancer, I'd say that we also need to be taking the latest research. We need to be basing our diet on plant-based proteins and plant-based foods, if we want to minimize our risk of cancer. So, start out by looking at and getting in your diet at least seven to nine servings, and that's the best fortification, and cancer-prevention diet is based around plant-based food.
HOST: We thank all the healthcare professionals featured on today's program for their insights on the benefits of a plant-based diet in preventing and curing prostate cancer. Through their diligent, enlightened work, they are helping countless men live healthier, longer and more fulfilling lives. We wish them great success in their future, noble endeavors.
For more information on today's program's experts, please visit the following websites:
Dr. Neal Barnard www.PCRM.org
Dr. Joel Fuhrman www.DrFuhrman.com
Dr. Eric Slywitch www.alimentacaosemcarne.com.br
Dr. Jay Sutliffe www.CSC.edu