CONSULTANT urologist Dr Robert Wan has said that a vegetarian diet is best for men trying to minimise their risk of developing prostate cancer, but, convincing them to go vegan is not the easiest of tasks, so men are instead asked to reduce their intake of red meat and increase products that have proven to be beneficial to the prostate.
Diet and nutrition has been identified as one of the risk factors for prostate cancer and Dr Wan told the Jamaica Observer Friday that food is indeed a factor to be concerned about.
"... We know that people who are living in the Far East have low incidence of prostate cancer... people in, like, Japan and Taiwan, those areas," said Dr Wan. "While people who are living in Western countries like the USA, for example, have a high incidence of prostate cancer."
The consultant urologist said this may be attributed to genes but asserted that if Asians move to the West, which they have, they do develop a higher risk for prostate cancer while living in the West. He also said if Western fast food and Western-styled foods are moved to the Far East, "then we are beginning to see a rise in prostate cancer, so we believe that foods do play a part".
Besides animal fat, which Dr Wan told the Sunday Observer seems to be the main problem, which most people get from red meat, especially if the meat is cooked at very high temperatures, milk is another product that seems to increase the risk for developing prostate cancer.
And though the studies are conflicting, Dr Wan said there seems to be a general consensus about some foods that seem to be helpful in the prevention and in some cases management, of prostate cancer.
"The foods that seem to be helpful are soya products, soya protein, green tea, tomatoes, and then some of the other things like broccoli, pomegranate, turmeric, which is a component of curry," the consultant urologist explained. "Studies on coffee have been conflicting but the general feeling is that coffee is beneficial, it is not harmful, and the high-fibre diet. Those are the things that we
think are favourable in regards to the food."
The foods thought to be beneficial in the prevention of prostate cancer have different constituents, but Dr Wan said that the general feeling is that it is the anti-oxidants in some of the foods. He also pointed out that there is some evidence that by giving someone with prostate cancer pomegranate, its progression may not be as rapid as someone who has not been consuming it.
The latest study on tomatoes, Dr Wan said, suggests that if tomatoes are consumed several times per week this could significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer. However, he pointed out that "this is one of the things that is a bit conflicting... but we seem to be coming to an understanding that the tomato is probably a good thing if you are thinking about your prostate".
"And the cooked tomatoes are effective. The raw tomatoes are not so effective because the constituent in tomatoes is a thing called lycopene and we don't absorb lycopene from the raw tomatoes as much as we do from the cooked... tomatoes," shared Dr Wan.