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Lifestyle, Diet Changes May Delay Prostate Cancer

Lifestyle, Diet Changes May Delay Prostate Cancer

Tuesday, October 23, 2001 By John Schieszer

ST. LOUIS (Reuters Health) - Making dietary changes and exercising on a regular basis may slow the progress of prostate cancer, according to an expert on the disease.

Studies from around the world suggest that staying within a healthy weight range and eating more plant-based foods and fewer animal products can possibly delay or prevent the development of prostate cancer, Dr. Eric Klein, head of urologic oncology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, reported here Monday at the American Dietetic Association's annual meeting.

This important message, Klein said, has not reached most American men.

"A high-fat diet is one risk factor for developing prostate cancer and there is good evidence now that certain nutritional minerals and vitamins may actually prevent prostate cancer," Klein said.

Evidence is mounting, he added, that foods rich in vitamin E and the mineral selenium may dramatically decrease both the incidence of prostate cancer and the risk of dying from it.

"Men who take those nutritional supplements in certain doses actually suffer less prostate cancer and a lower mortality rate due to prostate cancer," Klein said in an interview with Reuters Health.

At the meeting, Klein pointed to a large study of more than 29,000 men, the Alpha Tocopherol-Beta Carotene Study, which found that men who took vitamin E supplements were 32% less likely to develop prostate cancer and 41% less likely to die from the disease.

However, the same study found an increase in lung cancer among patients taking the supplements, Klein added, so he said it is too soon to make general recommendations about taking vitamin E to prevent prostate cancer. Also, he pointed out that it is too soon to begin recommending selenium supplements until more research is completed.

Instead, Klein said, he recommends that men increase their intake of these vitamins and minerals through whole foods. Seafood, meat and Brazil nuts are good selenium sources, while vegetable oils, sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts and soybeans are rich in vitamin E.

Men who consume higher levels of lycopene, a nutrient found in most tomato products, have also been shown to have a lower risk of prostate cancer, Klein noted. And adding soy to the diet may affect circulating hormones in the body and significantly lower the risk of developing prostate cancer, he said. Both lycopene supplements and soy supplements are now being tested as prostate cancer treatments.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Approximately 200,000 new cases are diagnosed every year and there are approximately 31,000 deaths from the disease annually.

Klein said dietitians play a critical role in getting the word out to all men that diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can dramatically affect prostate cancer risk.

Dietitians attending the session say this is important news that most men probably have never heard.

"It goes well with our message to try to eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.

SOURCE: American Dietetic Association's annual meeting.

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