Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men, but what causes it isn’t well understood. What we do know, however, is that dietary factors can play a part in who gets prostate cancer and how severe it is. The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system; prostate cancer can cause difficulties in urinating and sexual activity.
The condition is rare in men under 45, and is usually diagnosed in men in their 60s and 70s. It is often without any symptoms at all—in one study, four out of five men who died of natural causes in their 70s were found in autopsies to have untreated, and generally undiagnosed, prostate cancer. Black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to get the disease. In addition, there is a connection between obesity and incidence of prostate cancer.
That’s why it is recommended that men, particularly men at risk for prostate cancer, watch what they eat as they get older, watch their diets. In addition to avoiding obesity, eating soy and tomato, particularly together, may help reduce a man’s chances of developing cancer of the prostate. In a study, experimental animals genetically engineered to develop an aggressive form of the cancer were protected by a combination of tomato and soy—nearly half the study subjects on a soy-tomato diet didn’t develop cancer at all. Compounds in soy and tomatoes seem to prevent prostate cancer in humans as well. It has been found that men in regions where soy is a dietary staple have significantly lower levels of prostate cancer.
For men who have already developed prostate cancer, another study earlier this year found that vegetable oils drastically reduce mortality from prostate cancer and related conditions compared to animal fats. That means foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil rather than fatty meat. However, a low-fat diet, moderate exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight are an important part of preventing prostate cancer. Eating right is a more important factor than supplements in preventing cancer from occurring, so diet is important.