Can I reduce my risk?

We don't know how to prevent prostate cancer, but a healthy diet and lifestyle may be important. Eating healthily and being active can help you stay a healthy weight. This may mean that you are less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive or advanced prostate cancer. A healthy lifestyle can also improve your general wellbeing and reduce your risk of other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and some other cancers. 

More men in Western countries get prostate cancer compared to men in East Asian countries such as China and Japan. But when men from Asian countries move to Western countries they are as likely to get prostate cancer as Western men. This may be because of the Western diet, which contains less fruit, vegetables and fish, and more meat, dairy, sugar, fat and processed foods. 

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What is a healthy diet? 

Eating a healthy, balanced diet with a wide variety of foods and plenty of fruit and vegetables may help to prevent prostate cancer. A balanced diet should contain all the food groups in the picture below so that your body has all the energy and nutrients it needs, without containing too much fatty and sugary foods which can lead to weight gain.

The picture shows the five main food groups and the proportions that you should eat every day.

Healthy diet foodplateOur Specialist Nurses answer common questions about links between food and prostate cancer here.

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Which foods may lower my risk of prostate cancer?

There are some specific foods which might be important in helping to prevent prostate cancer. You might want to eat more of these foods, listed below. Scientists are studying these as we still need more research before we can say for sure whether they protect against prostate cancer, and how much you would need to eat.

  • Soy foods and pulses. Soy foods include soy milk, tofu, soy beans (you can buy these frozen), soy yoghurt, miso and tempeh. Pulses include beans, peas and lentils.
  • Green tea. You need to drink around six cups of green tea a day for it to have an effect, and brew the tea for 5 minutes to release the protective nutrients. Try drinking it instead of your usual hot drinks.
  • Tomatoes and lycopene (a compound found in tomatoes). The best sources of lycopene are cooked and processed tomatoes such as tomato sauces, soups, purees and pastes. Try to eat cooked or processed tomatoes regularly at least twice per week.
  • Selenium.  Selenium is found in Brazil nuts, fish, seafood, liver and kidney. Selenium supplements don't seem to have an effect.
  • Cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, pak choy, spinach and kale.

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Which foods might increase my risk of prostate cancer?

There are a number of foods that scientists think might increase the risk of prostate cancer, particularly if eaten in large amounts. It might be a good idea to try to limit the amount of these foods in your diet.

  • Dairy and calcium. More than 2000mg of calcium a day might increase your risk, this is equal to 1.6 litres of milk. Dairy is high in calcium but it is not clear whether it is the calcium or something else in the dairy that might increase your risk. Calcium is very important for your health and for strong bones, so make sure you include some in your diet.
  • Processed and red meat. Only eat processed meat occasionally. This includes sausages, burgers, bacon and ham. Limit the amount of red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, to 300g cooked meat (400-450g raw) a week. Choose white meat such as chicken, turkey or fish instead.
  • Well done and burnt meat. When meat is burnt it produces chemicals that can damage normal cells and cause cancer. Avoid grilling or barbequing meat as these cook the meat at very high temperatures, try baking or stewing instead.
  • Fat and saturated fat. Avoid saturated fats, which are found in meat, dairy products, cakes, biscuits and pastries. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead, found in olive oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, oily fish, vegetable oils.
  • Alcohol. Stay within the government guidelines - don't regularly drink more than three to four units of alcohol per day.

Supplements

Some people like to take supplements to try and help prevent cancer but the evidence doesn't show that supplements lower your risk. In fact, they might even increase it. For example high doses of Vitamin E supplements have been linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer. Supplements also don't contain all the nutrients found in foods. If you do take supplements, make sure you don't take more than the recommended daily allowance.

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How much physical activity should I do?

Exercising regularly throughout your life helps you stay healthy. It can help you keep to a healthy weight and may also help to lower your risk of prostate cancer and other health problems. The more physical activity you do, and the more vigorous the activity, the lower your risk of prostate cancer. But even a little is better than none at all.

Try these tips to help you do enough physical activity.

  • Find a sport or activity you enjoy.
  • You might find it more fun to exercise in a group or get outdoors.
  • Aim to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week - enough to get out of breath, such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming.
  • Or you could do 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, such as running, tennis or football.
  • You could also try a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise.

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References

A healthy weight
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Migration and cancer risk
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A healthy diet
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Soy foods
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Green tea
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Tomatoes and lycopene
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Ilic D, Forbes KM, Hassed C. Lycopene for the prevention of prostate cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011,Issue 11. No: CD008007.

Selenium
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Cruciferous vegetables
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Liu B, Mao Q, Cao M, Xie L. Cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis. Int. J. Urol. 2012 Feb;19(2):134-41.

Calcium and dairy
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Epstein MM, Smith-Warner SA. Abstract B104: Risk of prostate cancer with intake of dietary and total calcium: A pooled analysis of 14 prospective cohort studies. Cancer Prevention Research. 2011 Oct 22;4(10 Supplement):B104-B104.

Processed and red meat
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Wright JL, Neuhouser ML, Lin DW, Kwon EM, Feng Z, Ostrander EA, et al. AMACR polymorphisms, dietary intake of red meat and dairy and prostate cancer risk. Prostate. 2011 Apr;71(5):498-506.

Well done and burnt meat
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Hori S, Butler E, McLoughlin J. Prostate cancer and diet: food for thought? BJU Int. 2011 May;107(9):1348-59.

Fat and saturated fat
Ma RW-L, Chapman K. A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietics. 2009; 22:187-99.

Alcohol
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Middleton Fillmore K. Chikritzhs T. Stockwell T. Bostrom A. Pascal R. Alcohol use and prostate cancer: a meta-analysis. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2009. 53(2):240-55.

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Supplements
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Physical activity
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