Prostate cancer ranks second as the most prevalent form of cancer in men, next to skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, men at high risk are those over the age of 50, African-American or those with a family record of the disease.
A PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is a blood test generally used to assess the prostate, which is a small gland in the male reproductive system. High PSA levels mean that the prostate may be infected, inflamed or enlarged. If such symptoms are apparent, further tests are conducted to determine the possibility of prostate cancer.
Research on nutrition and how it can affect a man’s risk for prostate cancer have been unclear. However, some dietary changes have shown evidence of helping to prevent and even treat this cancer. For example, some studies suggest that vegetarians are more likely to have better protection against it.
Health experts say that one of the nutrition benefits in the fight against prostate cancer is lycopene – the reddish pigment that gives fruits and vegetables its natural color.
There is evidence showing that lycopene can help lower PSA levels, thus decreasing the risks for acquiring this form of cancer.
Foods high in lycopene, such as tomatoes, are better absorbed by the body when cooked with a little fat, rather than raw. It is important to remember though, that there are other nutrients aside from lycopene that might help fight cancer, too.
The National Cancer Institute has also observed Vitamin D to be helpful in preventing and combating prostate cancer. Vitamin D’s hormone-like properties have been tested to exhibit a form of protection on prostate gland cells. It has not been established if there is a difference in natural Vitamin D or Vitamin D supplements in prevention, but low blood levels of Vitamin D have been recorded in men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Either way, getting the recommended dose of Vitamin D and ingesting enough lycopene can go a long way, not just in the fight against cancer, but towards staying healthy overall.