Can You Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk Through Diet?


Over the next several blogs, we’ll look at some dietary elements that might affect your risk of getting prostate cancer. Up today? Coffee. We now have some data suggesting that there might be an association between coffee consumption and lower risk. Examples include:

  • Among 48,000 professionals, those who drank more than 6 cups of coffee daily had a 60 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancers (as compared to those who drank no coffee). Coffee, not caffeine, seemed to matter. This study asked about code use every 4 years over a 28-year period.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH)-American Association of Retired Persons (NIH-AARP) study found no link, but  it asked participants about coffee only once over an 11 year period.

The bottom line: While we lack high level evidence linking coffee consumption to a decrease in the risk of the lethal form of prostate cancer, the Health Professionals Study is suggestive of an association. The NIH-AARP study, albeit suboptimal, did not find such a link. I typically recommend that patients who enjoy coffee do so in moderation, limiting their daily intake to no more than 3 to 4 cups daily.

Certainly, those who wish to lower their personal risk of lethal prostate cancer might:

  • Exercise
  • Lose (or don’t gain) excess weight
  • Quit (or don’t start) smoking
  • Avoid calcium supplements, unless your diet is deficient in calcium
  • Eat a heart healthy diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, low-fat (not high-fat) dairy, whole grains (instead of refined grains), fish and poultry (instead of red meat), egg whites (instead of whole eggs), and oils (in lieu of shortening or butter).

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and (full disclosure) I live in the coffee center of the USA, Seattle.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

References: 1. J Nat Cancer Inst 103; 876, 2011; 2. Cancer Causes Control 2013. doi:10.1007/s10552-013-0229-6.

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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