Three or More Vegetables a Day Keep Prostate Cancer Away
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 5, 2000 (Cleveland) -- Men who really want a break today should pass up
the Big Mac and dig into broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage, says a team
of researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the
University of Seattle. When they compared the diets of men with prostate cancer
with diets of healthy men, the Seattle team found that eating three or more
servings of vegetables daily cuts the risk of prostate cancer by 48% compared
with men who aren't digging into the veggies.
All vegetables are good for you, says Alan R. Kristal, PhD, but it turns out
the cruciferous vegetables -- broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage,
kale -- do the most good. Kristal is a co-author of the study, which is
reported in the January issue of the Journal of the National Cancer
Kristal tells WebMD that fruits offered no protective effect. "This
isn't surprising since, in my opinion, the only nutrient in fruit that might
play a role is vitamin C, and I don't think that anyone is suggesting that
vitamin C is protective against prostate cancer," Kristal says.
Kristal and his colleagues studied the diets of 628 men from the
metropolitan Seattle area who were newly diagnosed with prostate cancer. The
data collected from those men were compared to similar dietary information
collected from 602 age-matched healthy males.
"We studied young men between the age of 40 and 64," says Kristal.
By studying younger men, "especially those under 60, it allows us to tease
out the environmental effects that cause prostate cancer as opposed to the
inevitable march of time that is the major cause of prostate cancer." While
prostate cancer is relatively rare in young men, it is the most common cancer
among men aged 65 or older, he says.
Kristal says that most men consume about "1.5 servings of vegetables a
day, so they would have to double the intake of vegetables to experience this
protective effect." For men who think that means more fries and baked
potatoes, think again. Kristal says that "French fries don't count as a
vegetable, and generally we did not find a protective effect for
Although recent reports have suggested that tomato products, especially
sauces that are rich in the tomato extract lycopene, protect against prostate
cancer, Kristal says his team found no special protection offered by tomatoes.
He says that tomatoes may, however, be protective as part of total vegetable
Kristal says that a change to a diet heavy on the vegetables and light on
the fats is especially important for "a man in his 40s who has a family
history of prostate cancer." A diet high in fat actually increases the risk
of prostate cancer. Thus, some of the protective effect of increasing dietary
vegetables may be that the vegetables "serve to displace fat in the diet.
Or it may be that once a person commits to eating more vegetables, he or she
decides to adopt a total healthier diet."