Prevent Prostate Cancer
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Man with basket of vegetables found to have link to positive effectsNutrients That Help Prevent Prostate Cancer

A 2021 study found that certain foods exert protective effects against prostate cancer.

By Michael Downey.

An estimated 268,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during 2022.1

Most men with cancer cells in their prostate gland are unaware of it.

Ingesting foods with anti-cancer activities, while avoiding foods that promote cancer propagation may:

  • Lower risk of developing prostate cancer,

  • Reduce need for aggressive therapies in those with low-grade disease, and

  • Improve clinical outcomes in those treated for prostate cancer.

A 2022 meta-analysis found that meat, especially processed meat, may be associated with increased prostate cancer risk.2

Another recent study found that a high consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is strongly linked to protective effects against prostate cancer.3

Previous research has shown that specific foods can reduce prostate cancer risk and improve outcomes in those following an active surveillance (watchful waiting) program or undergoing curative treatment.

Diet, Nutrients, and Prostate Cancer

About one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.1

However, regular consumption of certain foods is associated with lower rates of prostate cancer. By boosting intake of the following foods, men may significantly lower their risk.


Feeding walnuts to mice inhibits the development of tumors and decreases tumor growth and size. It also lowers levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), a protein associated with prostate cancer.4

Other animal and cell culture research shows that walnuts:5,6

  • Inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells,

  • Lower PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels, which may indicate prostate cancer when elevated, and

  • Reduce the size of prostate tumors.

In older men, walnut intake improved biomarkers related to prostate and vascular health.4

Cruciferous Vegetables

Observational studies have found that men with a high consumption of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and kale have a lower risk of invasive prostate cancer.7,8

A meta-analysis concluded that cruciferous vegetable intake is associated with an overall reduced risk of prostate cancer. 9

These effects may be a result of cruciferous vegetables’ abundance of beneficial compounds, including:10-14

  • Glucosinolates,

  • Indole-3-carbinol (I3C),

  • 3,3’-diindolylmethane (DIM), and

  • Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC).



In human studies, flaxseed intake has been shown to: 15 

  • Decrease proliferation of prostate cancer cells, and

  • Reduce proliferation of tumors in as few as 30 days.

Flaxseeds contain lignans, which are converted in the body into compounds called enterolactones.16

Men with higher levels of enterolactones have been shown to be less likely to have prostate cancer than men with low levels.17


A meta-analysis found that consuming four or more cups of coffee daily was linked to a reduced risk of fatal and high-grade prostate cancer, as well as a lower risk of overall prostate cancer.18

Additionally, a large epidemiological study found that, compared to drinking no coffee, drinking six cups of coffee (including decaffeinated) daily reduced the risk of prostate cancer by 18% and lowered the risk of lethal prostate cancer by 60%.19


Lycopene is the carotenoid pigment that gives tomatoes their red color.

A systematic review of cell and animal studies found that lycopene decreases androgen metabolism and signaling, an important factor in prostate cancer growth and progression. 20

Additional anti-cancer mechanisms of lycopene are believed to include inhibiting inflammation and reducing oxidative stress within prostate tissue. 21

Lycopene is known to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro, and higher circulating levels have been associated with reduced prostate cancer risk.22,23 Above-average consumption of lycopene has been tied to a 59% reduction in the risk of death from aggressive prostate cancers.24

A meta-analysis found a significant association between a lower risk of prostate cancer and consumption of tomatoes, cooked tomatoes, and tomato sauce. The greater the tomato consumption, the greater the risk reduction.25

To enhance the absorption of lycopene from tomatoes, eat them in processed form such as tomato sauce, or process them yourself by cooking and eating them with healthy fat, such as extra virgin olive oil.26,27


Prostate-Protecting Foods

  • One in eight American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.

  • Specific foods have been shown to exert protective effects against prostate cancer.

  • These foods include walnuts, cruciferous vegetables, flaxseed, coffee, tomatoes, green tea, and pomegranate, supported by supplemental vitamin D and boron.


In a phase II clinical trial of men with low-risk prostate cancer, prostate tissue samples from those who took pomegranate fruit extract daily for one year contained significantly lower levels of biochemical markers associated with DNA damage and prostate cancer.28

An earlier phase II trial was undertaken in men who had undergone surgery or radiation for prostate cancer and who subsequently showed rising PSA levels. Patients who consumed eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily had a delay in PSA doubling time, the time it takes for PSA levels to rise.29

Preclinical data show that pomegranate components protect against multiple aspects of prostate cancer including growth, progression, and spread, by inhibiting:30-35

  • Tumor cell proliferation,

  • Cell division,

  • Invasiveness,

  • Growth of new blood vessels, and

  • Metastasis (spread).



  • The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, has been associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer and prostate cancer-related death.52-54

  • High fiber intake is linked with reduced prostate cancer aggressiveness.55

  • Eating low-glycemic foods (foods low in sugars and unhealthy carbs, as well as adequate fiber, protein, and healthy fat) may reduce prostate cancer risk.

  • Certain foods have been associated with greater risk of prostate cancer, including eggs,56-58 milk,59-63 and processed or overcooked meat.64-67

A review found that three components of pomegranate exhibit these inhibitory effects on prostate cancer growth and spread: luteolin, ellagic acid, and punicic acid.36


A study found that men with the highest boron intake showed a 54% lower risk of prostate cancer compared to those with the lowest intake. In addition, they reported that increased dietary boron intake was associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer in a dose-response manner. 37

In an animal model, scientists orally administered various concentrations of a boron-containing solution. This resulted in decreases in prostate tumor size by 25% to 38%. Remarkably, PSA levels dropped by an astounding 86% to 89% in the animals that received boron.38

These findings suggest that supplemental boron may have both preventive and therapeutic effects—helping both to shrink prostate tumors and to decrease levels of PSA.

Green Tea

One clinical trial found that green tea catechins were 90% effective in preventing prostate cancer in men with pre-malignant lesions. The researchers recruited 60 men, aged 45-75. Thirty participants received 200 mg of green tea catechins three times daily, while the other 30 subjects received a placebo. Biopsies were conducted at six and 12 months.39

Remarkably, only one man in this pre-malignant green tea group was diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared to nine men in the control group who were diagnosed with the disease. No significant side effects or adverse reactions were reported. The lead researcher concluded that “ 90% of chemoprevention efficacy could be obtained by [green tea catechin] administration in men prone to developing prostate cancer.”39

 Green tea polyphenols have also shown efficacy as an adjunctive therapy. Prostate cancer patients were given 1,300 mg of green tea polyphenols, mostly EGCG, prior to the time of radical prostatectomy. They showed significant reductions in PSA and other tumor promoters such as vascular endothelial growth factor.40

Vitamin D

Observational studies have shown cancer risk reductions of up to 50% based on higher vitamin D status.41,42 People with higher vitamin D levels have lower odds of lethal prostate cancer.43

It’s difficult to get enough from food sources and there are risks with sun exposure. Scientists have determined that supplemental doses ranging from 5,000 IU to 8,000 IU daily can bring blood levels of vitamin D up to optimal ranges associated with reduced risk for chronic disease.

Regular blood testing is important to guide adjustments to these doses to achieve the maximum benefits.


Grapeseed extract induced apoptosis (programmed cell death) in prostate cancer cells.44 Grapeseed extract inhibited prostate cancer growth and progression in mice.45

A study found that men who supplemented with grapeseed extract reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 41%. Moreover, high 10-year average use of grapeseed extract was associated with a 62% reduction in prostate cancer risk.46


Curcumin induces apoptosis (programmed cell death), interferes with the spread of cancer cells, and regulates inflammatory responses. 47-50

In one trial, 30 patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and rising PSA received curcumin while undergoing treatment with docetaxel and prednisone. Improved PSA responses were noted in 59% of participants.51


Specific foods and drinks have been shown to be associated with a favorable influence on risk factors for, and mechanisms of prostate cancer.

Making walnuts, cruciferous vegetables, flaxseed, and other plant foods a consistent part of a healthy diet—further supported by supplemental vitamin D, boron and other nutrients—could potentially save lives and spare men the side effects of conventional treatments.

Consider cutting back or avoiding red meat, especially processed meat to further reduce risk of prostate and other cancers.



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