The Eight Commandments for Preventing Prostate (and Other) Cancers

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Here is a shocking statistic: Your overall risk for developing any type of cancer is 44.8% - meaning that 1 in every 2 people will have a form of cancer sometime during their lives. As you know, many types of cancer can be prevented just by following some simple lifestyle rules as recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

The recommendations are based on the findings of the WCRF/AICR Report “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective (2007)” which is a comprehensive analysis of the literature on several lifestyle factors in relation to cancer prevention.

Researchers with UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC), led by Lenore Arab PhD, evaluated the impact of the recommendations specifically as they relate to prostate cancer risk. Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting 1 in 6 men.

A total of 2,212 men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer, all between the ages of 40 and 70 years, were involved in the study called “The North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project.” The team used Gleason grading system scores and blood levels of prostate-specific antigen to determine the aggressiveness of the mens’ cancer.

Men who adhered to fewer than four of the WCRF recommendations were at a 38% higher risk for developing aggressive tumors than those who adhered to more than four. For every additional point in adherence score, the risk of developing aggressive disease was decreased by 13%.

Diet recommendations appeared to have the greatest impact, especially eating less red meat and fewer calories. Previous research has found that diet is the most controllable risk factor for inflammation and prostate diseases, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, and cancer.

Arab said that "most men are at risk of prostate cancer, but it is the level of aggressiveness of disease that is most clinically relevant. These findings suggest that even men with prostate cancer can take control of their disease and moderate its aggressiveness through diet and lifestyle choices."

Actually, most of the following recommendations could potentially prevent many other types of cancer – not just prostate cancer.

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1. Be As Lean As Possible Within the Normal Range of Body Weight
Obesity (body fatness) contributes to the risk of breast, colorectal and pancreatic cancers in addition to increasing the risk of dying from prostate cancer.

2. Be Physically Active as Part of Everyday Life
Exercise can help decrease the risk of breast and colorectal cancer as well as prostate cancer. One study, in fact, found that up to one-third of breast cancer cases could possibly be avoided if women exercised more and ate less. The recommendation continues to be a minimum of 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity physical exercise.

3. Limit the consumption of energy-dense foods.
Energy-dense food is defined as having more than 225-275 calories per 100 grams (the goal should be 125 calories per 100 grams). However, to make the recommendation simple, one should make an effort to avoid foods with excess sugar and fat, highly processed foods, sugary beverages, fast foods and convenience foods.

4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
The WCRF recommends eating at least 5 servings of non-starchy fruits and vegetables per day and consuming more whole grains in place of refined starches.

5. Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
Cut back on red meat (beef, pork) and processed meats (hot dogs, cured meats, bacon), as these not only could increase the risk of prostate cancer, but also bowel cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

6. Limit Alcoholic Drinks
If alcoholic drinks are consumed, limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. Excessive alcohol consumption could contribute to breast and colorectal cancers as well.

7. Limit Consumption of Salt
Avoid salt-preserved, salted or salty foods. Do not add salt at the table. Concentrating on fresh, whole foods in place of processed foods is an excellent way to reduce sodium intake.

8. Aim to Meet Your Nutrition Needs through Diet Alone
Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention. And in fact, taking mega doses of certain nutrients has been linked to an increased risk for certain cancers.

Studies have also indicated that stress and lack of sleep may also play a role in cancer risk. You may also want to assess your environment for changes that you can make to reduce risk.

Sources:
World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)
"Nutrition and Cancer" Lenore Arab, PhD, et al. Nutrition and Cancer Jun-2013

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