Prostate cancer research – can lifestyle changes reduce your risk?

Could lifestyle changes reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer? We’ve delved into the latest studies conducted on incidence and diet, to see what the current answers are. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, with 42,000 men being diagnosed with it in the UK every year. This high incidence of the disease has led some researchers to look into prostate cancer incidence and diet – studying whether certain foods or elements can reduce the risk of it developing. Soyabeans - isoflavones Isoflavones, found mainly in soyabeans, have been studied to examine if the compound can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Studies have shown that men living in Japan, where soya is a large part of the diet, have a lower incidence of prostate cancer. When they move to the west, where consumption is lower, their risk tends to increase. It has shown that isoflavone supplements reduced the risk in most studies, but in others it was said to have tumour-promoting effects – so the results are inconclusive. Isoflavones can be found in soy beans, tofu, soya products, chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans. Lycopene – tomatoes Found in tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables, lycopene has long been known to support a healthy heart but it may also have prostate cancer prevention properties. A recent study in China suggests it has an anti-oxidant affect with some anti-cancer properties. Most studies undertaken show consistently including lycopene in your diet (around 9-21mg per day) does show a reduced incidence of prostate cancer. Despite this other studies have shown it has little effect. Further study is required to determine if it has a positive effect and the mechanism by which lycopene affects the prostate. Green tea – catechins Alongside soyabeans, green tea has long been of interest to researchers because of its large consumption in Asia, compared with other areas. The ingredient catechin in green tea has been shown to arrest the development of prostate cancer, or reduce the number of cells. Some studies have however shown little affect, so confirmatory trials are required. Current advice suggests 5-6 cups of green tea per day, brewed for 5 minutes, will provide enough catechin. Lifestyle changes Studies soybeans, tomatoes and green tea seem to suggest that there are dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to protect against prostate cancer. Current advice is to stay at a healthy weight, as obesity increases the risk, and include exercise in your routine. Smoking and high levels of alcohol can also increase your risk of prostate cancer. Early detection The most reliable way to control the progress of prostate cancer is with early prostate cancer screening and early diagnosis. Many types of prostate cancer are very treatable if caught at an early stage. There is some work to do on making prostate cancer biopsies more effective, but it is still essential to get screened early. For more information about prostate cancer read our other articles on prostate health or find out more from Prostate Cancer UK.

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