Most of the research on diet and prostate cancer has looked at how diet affects the risk of getting prostate cancer. Some of the same dietary factors may affect how prostate cancer progresses after diagnosis and/or treatment. Research on diet after diagnosis is at an early stage, but it suggests that being at a healthy weight and eating tomato-based foods, soy and other plant foods may be helpful for men with prostate cancer.
After your prostate cancer diagnosis you may also be concerned about your risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and other new cancers. Many of the healthy eating and lifestyle habits recommended after a prostate cancer diagnosis may also lower the risk for many of these health conditions.
If you are having problems eating or have had unplanned weight loss this information may not be appropriate for you. Speak with a Registered Dietitian about your nutritional needs.
Steps You Can Take
Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. To determine if you are at a healthy body weight, visit the "Canadian Guidelines for Body Weight Classification in Adults" web site.
Be active everyday. Start with 30 minutes of physical activity everyday. As your fitness level improves aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate activity (e.g., walking briskly, cycling, dancing, swimming) or 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity (e.g., running, tennis) every day. Limit sedentary activites such as watching television and sitting at the computer.
Eat a well-balanced low fat diet that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans and lentils) and whole grains. "Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide" will help you plan a balanced diet with a variety of foods to meet your nutritional needs and to maintain a healthy weight. To get a copy of Canada's Food Guide visit www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php or call 1-800-OCanada (1-800-622-6232).
- Include foods rich in lycopene often. Lycopene is an antioxidant and gives vegetables and fruits their red colour. Good food sources include: cooked tomato products, like tomato paste, tomato sauce, cooked or canned tomatoes, tomato soup, and tomato juice. Other foods that have lycopene are watermelon, pink grapefruit and vegetable juice cocktail.
- Eat beans and lentils, including soy foods regularly. Try soy beverage instead of milk and use tofu instead of meat in stir-fries, casseroles and stews. Add beans and lentils to soups, salads and pasta sauces.
- Eat foods that provide selenium. Good food sources include brazil nuts, fish (including tuna, cod, halibut and salmon), seafood, turkey, chicken, eggs, whole wheat grain products, couscous, and ricotta cheese.
- Eat vitamin E rich foods often. Good food sources include nuts and seeds (particularly sunflower seeds and almonds), vegetable oils, tomato sauce and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Eat a variety of foods. The link between other foods (such as dark chocolate, pomegranate juice, flaxseeds or green tea) and prostate cancer progression or recurrence is not clear. Including these and other new foods as part of a varied healthy diet will help you get a variety of nutrients.
Avoid processed meats. Processed meats include meats preserved by smoking, curing, or salting. Ham, hot dogs, sausage, salami, beef jerky are examples of processed meats.
Aim for the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D are important for strong bones.
Calcium: Men aged 19-70 years should aim for 1000 mg of calcium and men over 70 years should aim for 1200 mg of calcium daily.
Vitamin D: Men should aim to get 600 IU of vitamin D daily until the age of 70 years when 800 IU of vitamin D is suggested each day.
- In addition to drinking 500ml (2 cups) of milk or fortified soy beverage every day for vitamin D, everyone over the age of 50 should take a daily supplement providing 400 IU vitamin D. A vitamin D supplement will help you meet the recommended daily amount.
You may need additional calcium and vitamin D if you are receiving hormone therapy. Speak with your doctor or a dietitian about your calcium and vitamin D needs.
Diets high in calcium (more than 1500 mg daily) have been linked with higher risk of prostate cancer, but we do not know if a diet high in calcium effects how prostate cancer progresses. It is still very important that men with prostate cancer aim for the recommended amount of calcium, but not more than 1500 mg daily. Eating your recommended servings for milk and alternatives as part of a balanced diet will keep your calcium safely below that level.
Be careful with supplements. Researchers are still learning about the effects dietary supplements on prostate cancer progression. Overall, supplements haven't been found to be helpful after a cancer diagnosis. Until we know more eating a varied and balanced diet appears to be the best way to get the various nutrients your body needs. Taking a one-a-day multivitamin and mineral supplement is generally safe for most people. If you are thinking about taking individual vitamin or mineral supplements talk with your doctor or dietitian first, as taking too much of some nutrients can cause unwanted health effects. For more information about dietary supplements see "Healthy Eating Guidelines for After a Cancer Diagnosis" and speak with your doctor or a dietitian.
HealthLinkBC Files. Available at www.healthlinkbc.ca/services-and-resources/healthlinkbc-files.
Dietitian Services at HealthLinkBC fact sheets. Available at www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthy-eating or by mail:
- Eating Guidelines for After a Cancer Diagnosis
- Healthy Eating Guidelines for After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
- Healthy Eating Guidelines for Cancer Survivors
BC Cancer Agency www.bccancer.bc.ca
The Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital www.prostatecentre.com
Last updated: February 2011