Fruits & Veggies Punch Cancer

Prostate cancer may be less aggressive for those who eat more fruits and vegetables

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Flavonoids, which add color to fruits and vegetables, have been shown to inhibit chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in these foods may decrease prostate cancer risk as well.

New preliminary research has found that men diagnosed with prostate cancer who consumed more fruits, vegetables, herbs and teas had a lower risk for developing aggressive prostate cancer compared with those who consumed the least amount of these foods.

"Eat fruits and vegetables often."

Tea, red wine, fruits, vegetables and legumes are foods that are full of flavonoids. These compounds are thought to have antioxidant properties that fight cancer.

Antioxidants help neutralize unstable atoms or molecules in the body that cause cell damage, which can lead to cancer.

Susan Steck, PhD, associate professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and her colleagues analyzed data on 920 African-American men and 977 European-American men.

The patients, who were from the North Carolina–Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project, were newly diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Investigators evaluated the men’s flavonoid consumption based on answers they provided on a questionnaire. The researchers used the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2011 Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods to measure the amount of flavonoids being consumed.

Men who had the highest total intake of flavonoids had a 25 percent lower risk for aggressive prostate cancer compared with those men who had the lowest flavonoid consumption. The risk for aggressive prostate cancer was even lower in men younger than 65 and in current smokers with the highest levels of flavonoid intake.

The top flavonoid-rich foods among study participants were citrus fruits and juices, tea, grapes, strawberries, onions and cooked greens.

Because no subclass of flavonoids was found to be acting independently, Dr. Steck suggests that it’s important to eat a variety of plant-based foods rather than focus on one specific type of flavonoid-rich food.

“This intervention is heart healthy as well,” said E. David Crawford, MD, professor of surgery, urology, and radiation oncology, and head of the Section of Urologic Oncology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) in Denver.

“I always tell my patients that in general what is heart healthy is prostate healthy.”

Dr. Steck adds that the results of the study support public health recommendations and guidelines from organizations such as the American Institute for Cancer Research to consume a more plant-based diet.

“In particular, consuming more flavonoid-rich foods may be beneficial for those people who are at increased risk for cancer, such as smokers,” she said. “Filling your plate with flavonoid-rich foods is one behavior that can be changed to have a beneficial impact on health.”

The abstract of this study was presented on October 17 at the 11th Annual American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research in Anaheim, California.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 18, 2012
Last Updated:
October 19, 2012