04.18.2019 •

​How to Prevent Prostate Cancer

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Leading the way in cancers affecting males worldwide today, chances are, you or someone you know is dealing with this common disease.

While all men with a prostate can get prostate cancer, there are some risk factors over which you will have little to no control. These include:

  • Age: the risk increases significantly with age
  • Race: men of African descent have a much greater risk than the remaining population
  • Family history: those with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer have double the risk of developing it too

Because prostate cancer can be very slow growing, it’s possible a man will live for years, never even knowing he has it. However, a significant number of men with untreated prostate cancer will suffer serious consequences. And, of course, the best course of action is to try to prevent this cancer from starting or progressing at all.

If you are concerned about preventing prostate cancer, here are some healthy ways to beat the odds.

Consume more vegetables

As if you needed even more reasons to up your veggie intake, certain types of vegetables have been shown to slow the progression of prostate cancer and to reduce the risk of getting it at all. The main vegetables to fill your plate with for this benefit are the cruciferous ones. That means broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and dark leafy greens like kale, mustard greens, arugula, bok choy, and watercress.

Tomatoes may also reduce prostate cancer development. They are rich in an antioxidant called lycopene, which is higher in cooked or concentrated tomato products (e.g. sauces, purees, pastes; though you’re better to make your own or at least read the labels to watch for sugar and other added ingredients). Lycopene has been associated with anticancer properties.

Cut back on dairy and saturated fats. Maybe.

Studies are mixed, but associations have been made between the high consumption of dairy products and increased risk of prostate cancer incidence. According to these studies, there is some evidence to suggest that a high consumption of dairy products boosts insulin-like growth factor (IGF)—a hormone that can increase prostate cancer growth. Instead of drinking cow’s milk, you might try opting out for non-dairy drinks like oat, cashew, rice, almond, hemp, or coconut milks.

Limit processed and red meats

More and more people are looking at alternatives to eating red or processed meats, choosing, perhaps, more plant-based meals. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO), cited processed meats—hot dogs, ham, bacon, and some deli meats—as a carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and red meats—beef, pork, lamp, goat—as probably carcinogenic.

Legumes, nuts, and seeds offer plenty of protein, along with other beneficial nutrients like fibre, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Some grains, like amaranth and millet, even contain good quantities of protein.

Other healthy protein options include fish—particularly wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and other omega-3 rich fish that may also help lower your risk of prostate cancer.

Lose that extra weight

Are you overweight? Then you might be at a higher risk of prostate cancer. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, you fall within the obese range, and that’s bad news for any man who wants to stave off prostate cancer. Watching what you eat, lowering your daily calorie intake, and incorporating a suitable exercise program can go a long way to shedding that excess weight.

Take Japanese Red Reishi Mushrooms

Celebrated in Traditional Chinese Medicine as the “mushroom of immortality” and the “medicine of kings,” you’d probably think that reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) delivers some pretty astonishing health benefits—and you’d be right. This prized fungus has been shown to support a healthy immune system, defend against heart disease, calm the nerves, relieve both allergies and inflammation, and fight cancer.

Studies have demonstrated that reishi mushrooms has cancer-fighting properties. Beta-glucans, complex sugars found in reishi mushrooms, have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.

One of the ways that cancer grows is by giving chemical signals to the body to create new blood vessels that can feed it oxygen and nutrients. This process is called angiogenesis, and it also leads to the spreading of cancer cells to other areas of the body, in a process called metastasis. Some cancer drugs try to inhibit angiogenesis. What’s amazing is that reishi mushrooms help kill prostate cancer cells, inhibit prostate cancer growth, and suppress prostate cancer spreading, at least in part, by inhibiting angiogenesis. Nature is powerful.

Eating healthy, managing your weight, and taking Japanese Red Reishi mushrooms are some great steps in the right direction that will not only help lower your risk of prostate cancer, but also prevent other cancers and chronic diseases.


Dr. Melissa Carr is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. In practice since 2001, Dr. Carr has a passion for sharing health information. She has been a nutrition instructor and a health consultant, lecturer, and writer for 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper, Fraser Health Authority, UBC, and the David Suzuki Foundation, amongst others.
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