Ways to fight prostate cancer

Tags: Knowledge
Prostate cancer is the fourth most common malignancy among men worldwide, with an estimated 400,000 new cases diagnosed annually, accounting for 3.9 per cent of all new cancer cases. Results in September 2012 have shown that more than 241,000 men will have been diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States, while more than 28,000 will die from the disease.

In India, the figures are just as alarming. According to a September 2012 report by King George’s Hospital in Lucknow, about 70 per cent of men above the age of 50 years suffer from prostate cancer, but they ignore it assuming it to be fallout of the normal ageing process. Prostate cancer ranks only behind lung cancer as the deadliest among males in the US.

The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut that surrounds the male urethra, a tube that carries urine from the bladder. The prostate gland grows quite a lot during puberty and then doesn’t change much until about the age of 40, when it slowly begins growing again and, in many men, does not stop growing.

According to prostatehealthguide.com over 50 per cent men in their 60s and as many as 90 per cent in their 70s or older have symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Prostatitis is an issue for men of all ages and affects 35 per cent of men aged 50 and older.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the medical term for an enlarged prostate. A non-cancerous disorder, an enlarged prostate is the most common prostate health problem among men. Half of men between the ages of 50 and 60 will develop it, and by the age of 80, about 90 per cent will have experienced BPH symptoms such as frequent urination, incomplete emptying of the bladder, a weak urine stream or difficulty starting urination. And as the prostate slowly continues to enlarge, symptoms could gradually worsen, interfering with sleep, physical comfort and routine activities. In rare cases, an untreated enlarged prostate may lead to an inability to urinate, incontinence, bladder stones, kidney infections and damage to the bladder, kidneys and urethra.

A study by the University of Colorado Cancer Center published in the Cancer Prevention Research Journal dated January 2013 says that a high-fibre diet may stop cancer from progressing in men who have been diagnosed with early stages of prostate cancer.

Head of the urology department, S N Shankhwar from King George’s Hospital says that an increase in the incidence of prostate can be blamed in the change in the dietary pattern during the past couple of decades. According to him, people today tend to eat more of pizzas, burgers, noodles and similar foods which may be tasty, but are initiators of diseases. They fill the stomach, but lack vital nutrients and so should be avoided. Healthy Indian food low in fat and high in fibre can help prevent cancer. Most fruits and vegetables contain three types of phyto-oestrogens that help in curbing cancer prostate.

There is evidence to support that healthy Indian food is beneficial in warding off cancer. According to a new research dated October 2012 from the Ludwig-Maximilians University, turmeric may hold the key to warding off prostate cancer. And according to nutritionist Stacy Kennedy of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, you should balance turmeric with a little black pepper to make the most of its cancer-fighting properties, as the pepper helps the body absorb turmeric by protecting it from stomach enzymes.

In international and interregional corelational studies, dairy product consumption has been consistently associated with prostate cancer mortality. Dairy products influence the incidence or progression of prostate cancer because of the effect of high-calcium foods on vitamin D metabolism. Men who drank more than six glasses of milk per week had lower levels of vitamin D, which has been shown to protect the prostate. Milk-drinking also raises the amount of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in the blood, which is linked to cancer risk.

Weight also plays a part in keeping men prostate cancer free. Men who have been treated for prostate cancer are less likely to have a recurrence if they maintain a healthy weight, according to a study in the journal Urology by University of California researchers.

According to Neal Barnard, MD, a man in Hong Kong, where diets are rich in rice and vegetables, is half as likely to have cancerous cells in his prostate, compared with a man in Sweden, where diets are high in dairy products and meat. But if cancer happens to strike, a man in Hong Kong is eight times more likely to survive it, compared with his Swedish counterpart. By boosting vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains and avoiding dairy products, meats, eggs, and fried foods, men are able to take advantage of protective nutrients and avoid cancer-promoting factors.

(The writer is the owner of wellness centre Back to the Basics and the author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

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