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Prostate Cancer

Protect Against Prostate Cancer With a Plant-Based Diet

A plant-based diet that avoids milk and dairy products can help protect against prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States. Black men are 1.7 times more likely to have new cases of prostate cancer and twice as likely to die from prostate cancer, compared to white men.

High intakes of dairy products including whole and low-fat milk and cheese increase the risk for prostate cancer, according to a 2015 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Previous research found that men drinking more than one glass of whole milk per day had double the risk for fatal prostate cancer, compared with men drinking less.

Whole milk consumption also increases risk for prostate cancer recurrence in overweight and obese men, according to a 2018 study. Those who consumed more than four servings of whole milk per week increased their risk for recurrence by 73%, compared to those who consumed fewer or no servings of milk.

Dairy products also increase the risk of death from prostate cancer, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer. Men who consumed three or more servings of dairy products a day had a 141% higher risk for death due to prostate cancer compared to those who consumed less than one serving. Both high- and low-fat dairy products were associated with increased mortality.

Red and processed meat and eggs are also associated with increased risk for prostate cancer.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who followed a vegan diet had a 35% lower prostate cancer risk than those following a nonvegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian diet.

Fruits and vegetables rich in lycopene, the bright red pigment found in tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit, may be especially beneficial. Men who consume two or more servings of tomato sauce per week have 23% less risk of prostate cancer, compared to those having tomato sauce less than once per month, according to data from the Harvard's Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts) also offer protection.

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