Can any foods help with my prostate cancer?
Some studies suggest that certain foods could help slow down the growth of prostate cancer or lower the chance of it coming back after treatment. We describe some of these foods below. With all of these foods, the evidence isn't very strong and other studies haven’t shown any effect. This means we can’t say for sure whether any of these foods can help.
Soya beans and other pulses
Soya beans belong to a group of plants called pulses or legumes. Some of the chemicals in soya beans are also found in other pulses, such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.
We don’t know whether pulses have an effect on prostate cancer, but they are a good source of protein and other nutrients that are important for general health. Three heaped tablespoons of cooked pulses can count as one of your five daily portions of vegetables.
Soya beans are available in some supermarkets in the frozen foods or dried snacks sections. If you decide to eat more soya beans, you could try products such as soya milk and yoghurts, tofu, soya bread, miso and tempeh. Try to avoid products with added salt and sugar.
Some studies suggest that chemicals in green tea might protect against prostate cancer growth and advanced prostate cancer. But we can't say for certain about the effects of green tea, as other studies haven't seen the same benefits.
If you decide to drink green tea, you'll need to brew it for five minutes to make sure plenty of nutrients are released, making the flavour quite strong. You might want to choose a decaffeinated variety, especially if you have urinary problems, as caffeine can irritate the bladder.
Tomatoes and lycopene
Tomatoes contain a plant chemical called lycopene. Some studies have suggested that eating tomatoes could help to protect against prostate cancer growth and aggressive prostate cancer. But experts recently looked at all of the studies on lycopene and only found limited evidence of any benefit for men with prostate cancer. So we don't know if it's helpful.
Cooked and processed tomatoes, such as tomato sauces, soups, purees and pastes, are a better source of lycopene than fresh tomatoes. This is because the body finds it easier to absorb lycopene from tomatoes that have been cooked or processed, particularly with a little oil. Try to choose low-salt and low-sugar options as some products, such as ketchup, have added salt and sugar.
Lycopene is also found in watermelons, pink grapefruits, guava and papaya. As lycopene isn’t stored inside the body for very long, you need to eat foods containing lycopene regularly to keep some in your body. You may need to avoid grapefruit if you take certain medicines, including some drugs to lower cholesterol or blood pressure, drugs to treat erection problems, and warfarin to thin your blood. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure.
These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, spinach and kale. Some studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables may help slow down the growth of prostate cancer and reduce the risk of advanced prostate cancer. But we need more research into the effects of cruciferous vegetables, as other studies haven’t found this.
Some studies suggest that pomegranate juice may be good for men with prostate cancer. But we don't yet know if this is the case. If you want to try pomegranate juice, choose a variety with no added sugar. You may need to avoid pomegranate if you use certain prescription drugs. Ask your pharmacist for advice.