Prostate cancer – the dietary links

Dr Paul Clayton 2002

The American Cancer Society predicted that final figures for new prostate cancer patients in 2001 would exceed 198,100. Approximately 31,500 of those diagnosed would die of the disease, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men.

The benefits of screening and early detection (secondary prevention) in reducing the incidence of prostate cancer remain controversial; however, primary prevention is promising, and strongly linked to constituents in the diet such as lycopene (tomatoes),isoflavones (soy), and selenium. (All these factors are reviewed in Health Defence chapter 13.)

In a study at Stanford University, USA (Brooks et al, J Urol 166:2034-2038, 2001), men with low plasma selenium levels were shown to have a 4- to 5-fold increase in risk of developing prostate cancer. This study confirms earlier reports of the significance of selenium in the development of prostate cancer by teams at the University of Arizona and the US National Cancer Institute.

For North Americans who want to contribute to science,and perhaps gain some protection in the process, the NCI is currently running SELECT – the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial.

In the meantime, you should seriously consider eating more tomatoes.