A healthy diet and regular exercise are important for health, and might help lower your risk of prostate cancer. The following information may be useful if you want to find out more about healthy eating and physical activity.

If you've been diagnosed with prostate cancer, take a look at our information on diet and physical activity for men with prostate cancer.

Can a healthy lifestyle reduce my risk of prostate cancer?

No one knows how to prevent prostate cancer, but a healthy lifestyle may be important.

The latest research suggests that being overweight or obese probably increases your risk of aggressive or advanced prostate cancer. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help you stay a healthy weight, so these may be important for lowering your risk.

A healthy lifestyle can also improve your general wellbeing and help to prevent other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and some other cancers.

We know that men in western countries, such as the UK, are more likely to get prostate cancer than men in east Asian countries such as China and Japan. And that when Asian men move to western countries, their risk of prostate cancer increases. This may be because of the western diet, which contains less fruit, vegetables and fish, and more meat, dairy, sugar, fat and processed foods.

What is a healthy diet?

A balanced diet should contain all of the food groups shown in the diagram below. This will ensure your body has all the energy and nutrients it needs, and only a small amount of fatty and sugary foods which can cause weight gain.

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

Healthy diet foodplate

Can any foods lower my risk of prostate cancer?

Until very recently, experts thought that eating certain foods probably lowered the risk of prostate cancer. These included:

  • Foods containing lycopene – including tomatoes and some other red fruits and vegetables
  • Foods containing selenium – including Brazil nuts, fish, seafood, liver and kidney.

Some studies have also suggested that other foods might help to lower risk, including:

  • Pulses – including beans, peas, lentils, soya foods
  • Foods containing vitamin E – including vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables.

But experts at the World Cancer Research Fund recently looked at the results of lots of different studies, and are now less certain about the links between these foods and prostate cancer risk. They now say there isn’t enough evidence to say whether or not any individual foods reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, you may be able to lower your risk by choosing a healthy diet, including lots of fruit and vegetables and a wide range of other healthy foods.

Which foods might increase my risk of prostate cancer?

We still don’t know whether any individual foods increase the risk of prostate cancer. But some studies suggest that certain foods might increase your risk if you eat lots of them.

Dairy foods

Some studies have found that eating or drinking lots of dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt or cheese, might increase your risk of prostate cancer. This might be because of the calcium in dairy products, or it could be something else.

We need more research to find out whether eating less calcium or fewer dairy products might help to prevent prostate cancer. Until we know more, you might want to try reducing these foods in your diet. But you do need some calcium – about 700mg a day – to keep your bones healthy. You can get 700mg of calcium by having a 200ml glass of milk, 30g of cheese and a small yoghurt.

Processed and red meat

Some studies have found that eating red or processed meat, such as sausages, burgers, bacon and ham, might increase your risk of prostate cancer. But the latest research means experts now aren’t sure whether or not these foods increase your risk.

If you want to reduce the amount of red and processed meat in your diet, you could try eating chicken, turkey or fish instead.

Other foods

Scientists have suggested a number of other foods – and ways of preparing or cooking meat – that might increase your risk of prostate cancer. These include well done and burnt meat, saturated fats and alcohol. But at the moment, there isn’t enough evidence about the possible links between these foods and prostate cancer.

Should I take supplements?

Some people take supplements to try to lower their risk of cancer, but studies suggest this isn’t likely to work. In fact, some supplements might increase your risk of cancer.

The best way to get all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables. If you do use supplements, don’t take more than the recommended daily allowance.

How much physical activity should I do?

Regular exercise is good for your general health. People who keep active are more likely to be a healthy weight and less likely to develop health problems such as heart disease and some cancers.

We don’t yet know whether physical activity can help to prevent prostate cancer, but some studies suggest it may help to lower your risk, particularly of aggressive prostate cancers. Vigorous exercise may be better than light exercise – but any exercise is better than none at all.

Try these tips to help you get active

  • Aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate exercise every week, such as brisk walking, cycling or pushing a lawnmower. Moderate exercise should make your breathing and heartbeat faster.
  • You could exercise for ten minutes twice a day to begin with. Then when it gets easier, slowly increase this to 30 minutes five times a week.
  • Or you could do 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, such as running, rugby or football.
  • Find a sport or activity you enjoy – or do lots of different ones so you don’t get bored.
  • You might find it more fun to exercise with other people – try doing things with friends or a family member, or join a sports team or running group.
  • Getting outdoors can be good for your physical and mental health. If you often drive or take the bus for short journeys, try taking a brisk walk instead.
  • Try to spend less time sitting down. You could move about the house while you watch TV, or choose more active video games. And don’t forget to take regular breaks at work.
  • Write everything you do in an activity diary so you can see how well you’re doing.

Speak to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or starting any new exercise, especially if you have other health problems such as heart or lung disease, or joint problems.


Updated: March 2015 | To be reviewed: March 2017

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