Title: Diet and prostate cancer

Key words: surgery, radiotherapy, hormone treatments, dietary recommendations, vegetables, exercise, vitamin C, citrus fruits, natural killer cells (NK cells), vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, coenzyme Q10, genistien, green tea, antioxidants, lycopene, melatonin, alpha-linoleic acid, arachadonic acid, sugar, fat

Date: Mar 2002

Category: Special diets

Type: Abstract

Author: Dr Jeremy Gambrill



Diet and prostate cancer


What follows is a brief list of what some patients believe to be Good, Not Good and Bad as they live with their prostate cancer. The information is drawn from the experiences of many men with prostate cancer, predominantly living in the USA or UK. Almost all of them have followed the advice of their doctors and been treated for their cancer with surgery, radiotherapy (RT) (including brachytherapy) or hormone treatments (HT) - although some, advised to take up HT, have preferred to use PC-SPES.



Vegetables, particularly cauliflower; brussel sprouts, broccoli and cabbage, spinach, beet, turnips, asparagus and carrots. Eat them raw, steamed, baked, stir-fried but not boiled, which allows the nutrients to leach into the cooking water. Always wash vegetables thoroughly before cooking them to clean off any preservatives.

Very good for the system are fresh garlic, ginger, tumeric, cumin seeds and fresh basil.

Mushrooms are highly recommended, in particular shiitake, reishi and maitake.


Wherever possible eat organic vegetables and fruit

Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene (see separate entry)

Exercise because it improves oxygen uptake and utilisation within the cell structure and promotes the movement of lymph through the lymphatic system which aids detoxification.

Vitamin C preferably as calcium ascorbate. Patients report daily dosage of up to 10g. It is held to promote cell growth and to enhance the efficiency of NK (natural killer) cells. Naturally available from citrus fruits, berries and green vegetables.

(Note: that vitamin C content from fruit juices "can vary depending upon how much has been added since the vitamin is lost during the production process. Only in freshly squeezed juices is the full content retained." Thorsons Complete Guide to Vitamins & Minerals; p.156

Vitamin D Best taken by getting out regularly into the fresh air and sunlight.

Vitamin E up to 200mg a day. Works best in company with vitamin C. In animal studies it has been shown to prevent tumour development. Naturally available from seeds, nuts, wheat germ and cold pressed vegetable oils.

Selenium. Taken in association with vitamin E. Laboratory tests have shown it greatly improves the activity of NK cells. Up to 200mg daily. Naturally available from brazil nuts (Note: one unshelled Brazil nut (the kind you must crack yourself) averages 100 mcg of selenium, but on the other hand, an already shelled Brazil nut averages only 12 to 25 mcg. So, while you can reach your daily requirement with two or three freshly hulled Brazil nuts, it would take between 8 and 16 already-shelled nuts to reach that level.) Garlic, whole grains, sunflower seeds, other nuts, meat and seafood, especially swordfish, tuna and oysters are also good sources of selenium.

Coenzyme Q10 A vitamin-like substance naturally present in all cells of the body. Itself high in antioxidants it also helps to preserve the antioxidant functions in vitamin E and complements vitamin C. Naturally available from spinach, alfalfa, soya and potatoes

Genistien. Believed to slow down the growth of cancer by inhibiting the division of cells. Found in broad-leaf vegetables. Particularly evident in soyabeans although recent studies question the benefits from processed soya products suggesting that valuable nutrients are lost during manufacture. Traditionally brewed soya sauce however, which is much used in the Far East where the incidence of aggressive prostate cancers is less than half the rate found in the West, is widely used. Tamari (containing wheat) and Shoyu are two brands commonly found in supermarkets and healthfood shops. Organic miso paste is also recommended by many chefs as is tofu, which is made from boiled ground soya beans.

Green tea. Very high in antioxidants. Laboratory tests have shown it can induce shrinkage of tumours in mice.

Lycopene: Present in tomatoes, in greater strength when they have been cooked. Available in high concentration in ketchup but be aware of the high sugar content in this product. Possibly best delivered in tomato puree (typically used to flavour tomato based sauces)

Melatonin: Naturally produced in the body when asleep, at night, in a room without light. Available as a supplement ‘over-the counter’ in North America. As an antioxidant 1g of melatonin is 500 times more effective than 1g of vitamin C.

Pumpkin seeds: a source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc and calcium (add to breakfast cereal, soup or salad, but eat in moderation because, as with all seeds and nuts the calorie content is from fat)


Processed food. although, in our 21st century supermarket/fast food culture, processed food is almost impossible to avoid. The very act of cooking, bottling or tinning food removes most of the nutrients and the addition of colourants and preservatives does nothing to improve the quality or nutrional value. However, being realistic, at best we should try to balance out our diet with fresh food wherever possible.

Flaxseed oil: Widely recommended by nutrionists as a source of omega-3 fatty acid flaxseed oil is a prime source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and five different epidemiology studies have shown ALA to increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Red meat. Studies in the USA indicate that arachadonic acid, which is found in all meat but particularly red meat, actually promotes the growth of prostate tumours

Dairy products, A double problem. Milk, butter and cheese are all heavy in fats - see BAD. And unless you can be sure they come from an organic farm - see BAD again.

Sugar Laboratory tests clearly indicate that refined sugar can dramatically impair the efficiency of the immune system.





A diet high in fat: Fat promotes the production of ‘free radicals’ which enhances tumour growth as well as weakening the immune system.

Anything which has been treated with chemicals, pesticides and growth stimulants. The whole purpose of organising our food intake to support the body in its resistance to tumour growth is rendered useless if we consume toxic substances that damage or inhibit the immune system.

ã Jeremy Gambrill 2002 - If you have questions or comments or wish to add information from your own experience of living with cancer please telephone 01444 440373 or e-mail to gambrill@netcomuk.co.uk