This page is for all men who want to eat more healthily and possibly lower their risk of getting prostate cancer. Family and friends may also find the information helpful. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, you might like to read our Tool Kit fact sheet Diet, exercise and prostate cancer.
We do not know how to prevent prostate cancer but diet and a healthy lifestyle may be important in protecting against it.
Click the bars below to learn more.
Updated November 2010
To be reviewed November 2012
Why should I improve my diet?
A healthy diet and regular exercise can improve your general wellbeing and reduce your risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.1 They may also help to lower your risk of prostate cancer.
Men living in Western countries are more likely to get prostate cancer than men in South and East Asian countries such as China and Japan.2 Researchers think that this may be because of the Western diet, which contains less fruit and vegetables and more dairy, red meat, sugar and processed foods.
Your daily diet
The eatwell plate shows how much of what you eat should come from each food group. This includes everything you eat during the day, including snacks. So, try to eat:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables
- plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods choose wholegrain varieties whenever you can
- some milk and dairy foods
- some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
- just a small amount of foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar
Research shows that the more exercise you do, and the more strenuous the exercise, the lower your risk of prostate cancer.3 If you have any other health problems such as heart or lung disease, speak to your doctor before starting any new exercise programme
Try to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day - enough to get out of breath, for example, brisk walking, cycling or swimming.1 If you are able to, gradually build up to three hours of strenuous exercise a week, such as running, tennis or football.
A healthy lifestyle can also help you to control your weight. Men who are a healthy weight may be less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer than obese men.4, 5, 6
Which foods may affect my risk of prostate cancer?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet with a wide variety of foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, may help to prevent prostate cancer.2
Scientists have studied a few specific foods and so we know a bit more about how they affect prostate cancer risk. We need more research before we can say for sure whether any particular food protects against prostate cancer. We also need more information about how much of any food type you would need to eat for it to have an effect. However, there is some evidence that the foods listed here affect prostate cancer risk.
Some people like to take supplements to help prevent cancer. However, we do not yet know enough about how different nutrients work together to protect against cancer. Try to eat a balanced diet rather than taking supplements which may not contain all the necessary nutrients.7 If you do take supplements, make sure you do not take more than the recommended daily allowance as high doses of some supplements can be harmful.1
Foods that may reduce prostate cancer risk
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes contain a compound called lycopene. Research suggests that foods containing lycopene probably protect against prostate cancer.1, 8 Cooked and processed tomatoes, such as tomato sauces, soups and pastes, appear to be more protective than fresh tomatoes.1, 9 Try to eat two or more servings of cooked tomatoes a week.8
- Soya and other pulses such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. Some evidence suggests that pulses, especially soya, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.1 Include more soya, beans, peas and lentils in your diet. The more soya you eat, the lower your risk may be.1 Sources of soya include tofu, miso, tempeh, soya milk and soya yoghurts.
- Selenium. May help to protect against prostate cancer.11 However, a recent large study found no effect.10 Selenium is found in Brazil nuts, fish, seafood, liver and kidney. If you take supplements, do not take more than the recommended 0.075 mg a day.
- Green tea. Some evidence suggests that green tea may protect against prostate cancer.2, 11, 12 More research is needed. Drink around six cups of green tea a day for it to have an effect.13 Try drinking it instead of your usual hot drinks.
There have been some studies that suggest that the following foods may also help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer:
- cruciferous vegetables (for example broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage)2
- allium vegetables (for example garlic, onions and leeks)14
- pomegranate juice17
However, the evidence about these foods is not very strong and we need more research into their effect on prostate cancer risk.
Foods that may increase prostate cancer risk
- Dairy and calcium. Eating large amounts of dairy products and calcium (more than 2000mg of calcium a day12) may increase your risk of prostate cancer. The more dairy products or calcium you eat, the greater your risk may be.1, 18, 19 Reduce the amount of dairy foods you eat, such as milk and cheese. Do not exclude dairy from your diet altogether as calcium is important for healthy bones. Include other calcium-rich foods such as sardines with the bones, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds and pulses.
- Processed meat. There is some evidence that suggests that eating processed meat may increase your risk of prostate cancer.1 Only eat processed meat occasionally. Processed meat is preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding chemical preservatives. It includes ham, bacon, sausages, salami and burgers.
- Red meat (includes beef, lamb and pork). There is some evidence to suggest that eating red meat may increase your risk of prostate cancer. Other studies have found that red meat has no effect.2, 18, 20, 21 Limit the amount of red meat you eat to 300g cooked meat (400-450g raw meat) a week. Choose white meat such as chicken, turkey or fish instead, which do not appear to affect your risk of prostate cancer. 22
- Fat. Some evidence suggests that a diet high in fat may increase your risk of prostate cancer.2, 23 Other studies have found no link.24, 25, 26 Eat a diet low in fat. Saturated fats, found in meat, dairy products and processed food such as cakes, biscuits and pastries are less healthy. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts, oily fish, vegetable oils and olive oils, are healthier.
Where can I find out more?
Speak to your doctor before making any big changes to your diet or lifestyle, especially if you have other health problems.
If you are concerned about prostate cancer, speak to your GP or call our confidential Helpline.
You can find more information about diet from the following organisations:
- Simon Brewster, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Churchill Hospital, Oxford
- Liz Butler, freelance Nutitional Therapist
- Saira Chowdhury, Specialist Oncology Dietitian, Guy's & St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London
- Professor Kenneth Muir, Health Sciences Research Institute, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick.
- Professor Margaret Rayman, Professor of Nutritional Medicine, University of Surrey
- Prostate Cancer Voices
- The Prostate Cancer Charity Support & Information Specialist Nurses
Written and edited by:
The Prostate Cancer Charity Information Team
References to sources of information used to produce this page:
1 World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. Washington DC:AICR, 2007
2 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.
3 Orsini N, Bellocco R, Bottai M, Pagano M, Andersson S-O, Johansson J-E, et al. A prospective study of lifetime physical activity and prostate cancer incidence and mortality. British Journal of Cancer. 2009;101:1932-1938
4 Wright ME, Chang S-C, Schatzkin A, Albanes D, Kipnis V, Mouw T et al. Prospective study of adiposity and weight change in relation to prostate cancer incidence and mortality. Cancer. 2007;109(4):675-684
5 Rodriguez C, Freedland SJ, Deka A, Jacobs EJ, McCullough ML, Patel AV et al. Body mass index, weight change, and risk of prostate cancer in the Cancer Prevention Study II nutrition cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Pre. 2007;16(1):63-69
6 Freedland SJ, Platz EA. Obesity and prostate cancer: Making sense out of apparently conflicting data. Epidemiol Rev. 2007;29:88-97
7 Hsu A, Bray TM, Ho E. Anti-inflammatory activity of soy and tea in prostate cancer prevention. Experimental Biology and Medicine. 2010;235:659-667.
8 Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Platz EA, Stampfer MJ & Willett WC. Risk factors for prostate cancer incidence and progression in the health professionals follow-up study. Int. J. Cancer. 2007;121:1571-8
9 Haseen F, Cantwell MM, O'Sullivan JM & Murray LJ. Is there a benefit from lycopene supplementation in men with prostate cancer? A systematic review. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases. 2009;12:325-332.
10 National Cancer Institute. The SELECT prostate cancer prevention trial. http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/noteworthy-trials/select/Page1/allpages. Accessed 1 November 2010.
11 Syed DN, Khan N, Afaq F, Mukhtar H. Chemoprevention of prostate cancer through dietary agents: progress and promise. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007;16(11):2193-2203.
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13 Santillo VM, Lowe FC. Role of vitamins, minerals and supplements in the prevention and management of prostate cancer. International Braz J Urol. 2006;32(1):3-14.
14 Hsing AW, Chokkalingam AP, Gao Y-T, Madigan MP, Deng J, Gridley G, et al. Allium Vegetables and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Population-Based Study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2002; 94( 21): 2002.
15 Hedelin M, Chang ET, Wiklund F, Bellocco R, Klint A, Adolfsson J et al, Association of frequent consumption of fatty fish with prostate cancer risk is modified by COX-2 polymorphism. Int J Cancer. 2007;120(2):398-405.
16 Carayol M, Grosclaude P, Delpierre C. Prospective studies of dietary alpha-linolenic acid intake and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis. Cancer Causes & Control. 2010;21(3):347-55
17 Adhami VM, Khan N, Mukhtar H. Cancer chemoprevention by pomegranate: laboratory and clinical evidence. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(6):811-5.
18 Allen NE, Key TJ, Appleby PN, Travis RC, Roddam AW, Tjonneland A et al. Animal foods, protein, calcium and prostate cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. British Journal of Cancer. 2008;98:1574-1581.
19 Gao X, LaValley MP, Tucker KL. Prospective studies of dairy product and calcium intakes and prostate cancer risk: A meta-analysis. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2005;97(23): 1768-1777.
20 Sinha R, Park Y, Graubard BI, Leitzmann MF, Hollenbeck A, Schatzkin A et al. Meat and meat-related compounds and risk of prostate cancer in a large prospective cohort study in the United States. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2009;170:1165-1177.
21 Koutros S, Cross AJ, Sandler DP, Hoppin JA, Ma X, Zheng T et al. Meat and meat mutagens and risk of prostate cancer in the Agricultural Health Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008;17(1):80-87.
22 Rohrman S, Platz EA, Kavanaugh CJ, Thuita L, Hoffman SC, Helzlsouer KJ. Meat and diary consumption and subsequent risk of prostate cancer in a US cohort study. Cancer Causes Control. 2007;18:41-50.
23 Lophatananon A, Archer J, Easton D, Key T, Pocock R, Dearnaley D, Guy M et al. Dietary fat and early-onset prostate cancer risk. Br J Nutr. 2010;103(9):1375-80.
24 Crowe FL, Key TJ, Appleby PN, Travis RC, Overvad K, Jakobsen MU et al. Dietary fat intake and risk of prostate cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:1405-13.
25 Park S-Y, Murphy SP, Wilkens LR, Henderson BE, Kolonel LK. Fat and meat intake and prostate cancer risk: The Multiethnic Cohort Study. Int J Cancer. 2007;121:1339-45.
26 Wallstrom P, Bjartell A, Gullberg B, Olsson H, Wirfalt E. A prospective study on dietary fat and incidence of prostate cancer (Malmo, Sweden). Cancer Causes Control. 2007;18:1107-21.