November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month!

Published in: The Times Colonist - November 2011

Every year, November also known as “Movember” is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in Canada and all around the world. This health initiative was conceived in 1999 by a group of Australian men from Adelaide Australia and then made its way to Canada in 2007. With the growth of their “mo’s”, men all around the globe raise funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).


Statistics for 2011:
  • An estimated 25,500 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,100 will die of it.
  • On average, 475 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer every week.
  • On average, 83 Canadian men will die of prostate cancer every week.
  • One in 6 Canadian men will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime, and one in 27 will die of it.


The Basics:

Slow growing with few initial symptoms
Prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer, initially producing no symptoms. It is a cancer that may metastasize from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. Some symptoms of prostate cancer may include: pain, difficulty in urinating, problems during sexual intercourse, or erectile dysfunction. Other symptoms can potentially develop during later stages of the disease.

Yearly exams for early detection
Current screening tests are blood PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) and a yearly digital rectal examination. The treatment options for prostate cancer vary depending on the age and health of the patient and the extent of the cancer. Surgical removal of the prostate gland, radiation, anti-hormone therapy and “watchful waiting” are all common treatments depending on the stage and extent of the disease. Important information for men to be aware of is to know their risk factors, be informed with strategies to help promote prostate health and screen yearly to diagnose prostate cancer early.

Assess your risk factor
Risk factors include: a strong family history of a brother with prostate cancer increases risk 3.4 while two or more first degree relatives increase the risk to 5.1; specific toxin exposure including pesticides (lead and cadmium especially; job risks (farmers and firefighters have the highest risk); age (the older the greater the risk); race (African-American men have the highest while Asian have the lowest); obesity; weight gain starting at age 25 and increasing to age 40; decreased omega 3 fatty acids; high consumption of saturated fats (such as red meat); a low fiber diet and a history of coronary heart disease.

From some of the above risk factors you can probably understand how important lifestyle changes are.   The following tips will help in the prevention of prostate cancer and the promotion of prostate health.


12 Tips & diet changes for a healthier Prostate

1. Eat more Omega 3's
A diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids from purified fish and low in saturated animal fat, high in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts etc), low in simple carbohydrates and refined sugar, high in fiber foods to insure proper elimination and promote bowel health. Fish oils such as cod liver oil that have been purified and standardized will provide anti-inflammatory effects on the prostate. Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s are often lacking in the North American diet.

2. Eat more Lycopene
Lycopene is found in tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, pink guava and grapefruit. A number of studies, examining tomato products, lycopene intake, or circulating lycopene levels in relation to prostate cancer risk, suggest high consumption or high circulating concentrations are associated with a reduction in risk of prostate cancer.
(Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Liu Y, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 2002;94:391-398)

4. Eat more Beta-sitosterol
Beta-sitosterol is one of the most abundant phytosterols in the diet and is commonly found in many plants, legumes and botanicals such as saw palmetto (Serona repens) and pygeum (Pygeum africanum). It is thought to be one of the key active ingredients in many of the prostate-specific herbs and is present in many combination products for male and prostate health. Preclinical research has demonstrated that beta-sitosterol inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cell lines.
(Jourdain C, Tenca G, Deguercy A, et al. 2006. Eur J Cancer Prev, 15(4):353-61)

5. Pomegranates are a great snack
The pomegranate has been studied considerably demonstrating antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties, indicating that it may be useful in the treatment and prevention of certain cancers, specifically prostate cancer.
(Altern Med Rev 2008;13(2):128-144)

6. Stock up on Vitamin D when the sun isn't shining
Vitamin D helps protect again prostate cancer and is especially deficient during the winter months.
(Van Veldhuizen PJ, Taylor SA, Williamson S, Drees BM. J Urol 2000)

7. Eat Grapes everything
Resveratrol is commonly known as a component found in grapes, grape skins and grapevines. Studies have suggested that resveratrol is able to inhibit the growth of prostate and other cancer cell lines.
(Stewart JR, Artime MC, O'Brian CA. 2003. J Nutr, 133(7 Suppl):2440S-2443S).

8. Keep your minerals balanced - Eat Zinc
Prostate cancer patients have been reported to have subnormal levels of zinc within the prostate, which might facilitate the growth of cancer, according to some researchers.
(Costello LC, Franklin RB. Prostate. 1998)

9. Tea - The green kind
Drink Green Tea every day!
(Bettuzzi S, Brausi M, Rizzi F, et al. Cancer Res. 2006)

10. Selenium - a basic nutrient
Selenium has been reported to have diverse anticancer actions. The strongest evidence supporting the anti-cancer effects of selenium supplementation comes from a double-blind trial of 1,312 Americans with a history of skin cancer who were treated with 200 mcg of yeast-based selenium per day or placebo for 4.5 years and then followed for an additional two years. Although no decrease in skin cancers occurred, a dramatic 50% reduction in overall cancer deaths and a 37% reduction in total cancer incidence were observed. A statistically significant 63% decrease in prostate cancer incidence was reported.
(Clark LC, Combs GF Jr, Turnbull BW, et al. JAMA 1996)

11. Of course - Reduce your stress
Stress management is essential to prostate health. Reducing stress helps lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and boosts the immune system enhancing optimal health.

12. Get an exam...  Call your Doctor and book an appointment
Get your yearly prostate exam! Men of any age should have a baseline PSA then a yearly check of PSA starting at the age of 40 along with a digital rectal exam.

For more information about prostate cancer prevention and detection check out:


Men's HealthDoctor Marita