New study shows diet can slow prostate cancer

I was reading the daily news on the other day and came across the following story that I just couldn’t resist sharing.

Dr. Robert N. Butler, the former director of the National Institute of Aging and professor of geriatrics and adult development at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, claims there are no common “biomarkers” that tell us we’re getting older. According to Butler, things like thinning hair, wrinkled skin, memory lapses, reduced hormone levels, and osteoporosis don’t have anything to do with aging.

He claims the only way to figure out what the signs of aging really are is to follow a large group of people for at least 15 years and see what common aging symptoms show up in them. My question: Wouldn’t a two-day trip to snowbird country tell you all you need to know – and be a lot faster?! (Anyone else see the irony in finding this on Yahoo?)

Fortunately, not ALL of the research being conducted these days is as silly. On a more worthwhile search, I came across the following in this month’s Urology journal. A new study shows that limiting dietary fat to 20 percent of calories and eating three heaping tablespoons of whole flaxseed every day can significantly slow down prostate cancer growth. The study was conducted on men who were scheduled to have their prostates removed due to cancer, but this surgery often results in nerve damage and has about a 50 percent chance of permanent impotence.

The men who ate the whole flaxseed/low-fat diet retained sexual function as well as their drive. And, the longer the men stayed on the diet, the greater their tumor reduction. Their PSA levels, which are used as markers to indicate if someone has prostate cancer or accelerated tumor growth, didn’t go down very much with the diet – but their cancers showed a higher rate of cell death and slower tumor growth when compared to historic tumor measurements of prostate cancer.

If you want to increase your prostate health, there are several other things you can do in addition to lowering your fat intake and eating whole flaxseed. Supplements that increase testosterone levels or allow conversion of testosterone to DHT (a hormone that can spur prostate cancer growth) may be harmful, as higher hormone levels have been associated with prostate cancer growth. However, the herb saw palmetto has been shown to benefit prostate health without increasing testosterone levels. In fact, saw palmetto is even touted by the AMA and researchers at Harvard as showing great promise in the fight against prostate cancer, despite their more common stance against natural medicine.

Another prostate cancer fighter is milk thistle, which we told you about in our June 1 eAlert. The spice curcumin (known as turmeric) has also been shown to kill prostate cancer cells, according to recent research at Columbia University.

Saw palmetto, flaxseed, milk thistle, and curcumin are available at most health-food stores. These are relatively inexpensive supplements that can pack a powerful punch against prostate cancer.