This Diet Reduces DNA Damage Tied to Prostate Cancer

This Diet Reduces DNA Damage Tied to Prostate Cancer

It’s no secret that what you eat affects your health. Lots of studies have connected the dots between poor nutrition and a higher risk for a long list of diseases—including prostate cancer. Other studies have focused on the preventative powers of nutrients found in individual foods and specific food groups. For example, we know that cooked tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant proven to help reduce the risk for prostate cancer.

While most of these studies have focused on clinical indicators, cancer researchers at New Zealand’s University of Auckland took a different approach. They enlisted the help of men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. Each man was asked to follow a modified version of the Mediterranean-style diet so researchers could monitor its effect on participants’ prostate cancer—specifically each man’s level of:

  • Prostate specific antigen: a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland
  • C-reactive protein: a protein associated with prostate specific antigen and marker for inflammation and metastatic prostate cancer
  • DNA damage associated with prostate cancer

Baselines values were gathered for all of the prostate cancer patients before they began their new diet and at the three-month mark.

Traditionally, a Mediterranean-style diet includes olive oil, fruit and vegetables, legumes (beans), whole-grains and poultry—with some fish and seafood added. Red meat and dairy products, along with refined and processed foods (mainstays of the typical western diet) are kept to a minimum.

For this study, cancer researchers partnered with a nutritionist who supplemented the traditional Mediterranean-style diet with foods known to reduce inflammation—a known culprit in prostate cancer. Broccoli, pomegranate juice, salmon and green tea were added to the menu plan.
The men were also encouraged to limit their dairy consumption to one or two servings per day, and reduce their consumption of red meat to less than 500 grams per week and eat more fish and poultry.  

“We also asked the men to modify their cooking method and not to cook with a high heat as in frying or barbequing,” says Dr. Karen Bishop, the study leader with the university’s Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre.

Cooking any meat at extremely high temperatures releases carcinogens called heterocyclic amines—including one that is known to cause prostate cancer in animal studies. And it’s not just red meat that poses a danger. Charbroiling chicken with the skin still also produces carcinogens.

After following the modified Mediterranean-style diet for three months, the men were tested once again. Researchers found that by consuming more oily fish and olive oil and less red meat, processed meats and dairy products the men significantly reduced damage to their DNA.

“While no effect on inflammatory markers was show, a significant reduction in DNA damage was found in men who adhered closely to the diet and increased their consumption of legumes and green tea,” Dr. Bishop says. “We found that DNA damage was related to how much dairy fat they consumed.”

The results are empowering information for men looking for proactive ways to reduce their pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis risks related to prostate cancer.

“Anyone into fast foods is going to find this is a huge change,” Dr. Bishop notes. “This diet is most effective when men want to improve their health outcomes and are willing to take on board new ways of eating. It’s not so much a prescriptive diet, but more a new way of eating.”

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, the physicians and staff at USMD Prostate Cancer Center are here for you. Reach out to us online or call 1-888-PROSTATE (1-888-776-7828) to schedule a consultation.

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