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Preventing Prostate Cancer and BPH: Prostate-Health Expert Available (National Men's Health Week Is June 9-15)

SEATTLE, May 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The risk of the two major prostate diseases, cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), can be reduced by changes in lifestyle, such as avoiding smoking, maintaining a normal weight and eating a healthy diet. Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H., associate head of the Cancer Prevention Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, has conducted many studies that suggest men need not feel helpless against prostate cancer or BPH.

For example, Kristal and colleagues have found that:

-- Eating cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, at least three times

a week may reduce a man's risk of prostate cancer by nearly half.

Scientists believe that these vegetables protect against cancer because

they contain isothiocianates, which increase the activity of enzymes

that can both detoxify cancer-promoting compounds and decrease the

concentration of active androgens (steroid hormones) in the prostate.

-- Dietary supplementation with selenium and vitamin E may significantly

reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Kristal and colleagues found that

men who take a daily vitamin E supplement lower their risk of aggressive

prostate cancer by nearly half. Kristal and colleagues are now engaged

in a clinical trial with more than 35,000 men testing whether selenium

and/or vitamin E can prevent prostate cancer.

-- Men who eat a diet low in fat and red meat, moderate in alcohol, and

high in vegetables and lean protein have a significantly lower risk of

developing symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, a condition

associated with frequent and painful urination that affects nearly all

men by age 70. Kristal and colleague found that a high-fat diet

increased the risk of BPH by 31 percent, and that daily consumption of

red meat increased the risk by 38 percent. The researchers also found

that eating four or more servings of vegetables daily was associated

with a 32 percent reduction in risk, consuming high amounts of lean

protein was associated with a 15 percent risk reduction, and that

regular, moderate alcohol consumption (no more than two drinks a day)

was associated with a 38 percent decline in BPH risk.

-- Obesity is associated with an 80 percent increase in the risk of

high-grade, aggressive prostate cancer. What's more, in men who are

at high risk of prostate cancer because of prostate cancer occurring in

a first-degree relative, the distribution of body fat may also

contribute to increased prostate-cancer risk. "Apple-shaped"

men, who store fat in the abdominal area, have a nearly two-fold

increased risk of both low- and high-grade prostate cancer. The

mechanisms behind the link between obesity and the most aggressive,

fatal form of prostate cancer are believed to involve both steroid

hormones and systemic inflammation. "Obesity is a massive

inflammatory condition," Kristal said. "It also increases

levels of circulating estrogens and growth factors that promote cell


-- A high-calcium diet, calcium supplements and antacids may increase the

risk of advanced prostate cancer. In men who consume more than 1,200 mg

per day (equivalent to four or more glasses of milk), the risk of

aggressive cancer increases by more than 100 percent. High intake of

calcium suppresses blood levels of the active form of vitamin D, a

hormone that may protect against prostate cancer.

-- Obese men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer have more than

two-and-a-half times the risk of dying from the disease as compared to

men of normal weight at the time of diagnosis. "If a man is obese

at the time of diagnosis, he faces a 2.6-times greater risk of dying as

compared to a normal-weight man with the same diagnostic profile,

regardless of whether he has a radical prostatectomy or radiation

therapy, whether or not he gets androgen-deprivation therapy, whether he

has low- or high-grade disease or whether he has localized, regional or

distant disease," Kristal said.

-- Heavy smokers who are diagnosed with prostate cancer have twice the risk

of dying from their disease. Smoking may promote prostate cancer growth

through several mechanisms. One is that it can increase the amount of

circulating androgens, which fuels the growth of malignant prostate

cells. Another theory is related to tobacco as a source of cadmium, a

heavy metal that has been linked to prostate cancer in several

occupational-health studies. This known human carcinogen inhibits DNA

repair, which allows cancer cells to mutate and multiply.

-- African-American men are known to have a higher risk of prostate cancer

than white men. Kristal and colleagues also found that African-American

men have a 50 percent higher risk of developing symptomatic BPH than

white men.

-- The excitement about lycopene (the pigment that puts the red in

tomatoes) and prostate-cancer prevention is probably a mistake, Kristal

says. Most large and well-designed human studies, and most animal

studies, have failed to find convincing associations between lycopene

and reduced prostate-cancer risk. Men should be wary of quick fixes like

lycopene supplements, vegetable-juice powders or other agents promoted

for prostate-cancer prevention.

The take-away message from all of these studies is that men can lower their risk of prostate disease by making lifestyle changes. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet low in fat and high in a variety of vegetables (especially broccoli), and achieving and maintaining a normal body weight can lower the risk of developing BPH and prostate cancer. And if a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, quitting smoking and losing weight may lower the risk of developing an aggressive, lethal form of the disease.

This news release was issued on behalf of Newswise(TM). For more information, visit

SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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