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Three or More Vegetables a Day Keep Prostate Cancer Away

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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 consumption.

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."

In an interview about the effects of diet and vitamins on cancer risk, Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition and chief of the antioxidants lab at Tufts University School of Nutrition and Health, tells WebMD, "It is naive to think that we will find a nutritional magic bullet to fight cancer. The carcinogenic process is enormously complex, and there is not a single nutritional pathway that will provide an answer." He says, however, that a study such as the work by Kristal and colleagues "is very exciting" and adds to the mounting evidence that nutrition is an important part of the cancer puzzle.

Kristal says that opting for a healthier diet is not difficult and can be as simple as "deciding not to go to McDonald's and going instead to a Chinese restaurant."

Vital Information:

  • Eating three or more servings of vegetables each day can cut the risk of prostate cancer by 48%, and cruciferous vegetables provide the most benefit.
  • Research showed that fruits offer no protection, and a diet high in fat increases the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Researchers suggest that increasing vegetable consumption may serve to replace dietary fat or may be associated with people who have overall healthier lifestyles.
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