Veggies for Enlarged Prostate Risk

Eating Vegetables May Cut Men's Risk Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 14, 2007

Feb. 14, 2007 -- Enlarged prostates appear to be less common among men who eat lots of vegetables, a new study shows.

Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) is common in older men. With BPH, the prostate becomes enlarged. The condition is not cancerous, but it can hamper urine's flow. The exact cause of BPH isn't known.

"Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that a diet rich in vegetables may reduce the occurrence of BPH," write the study's researchers.

They included Sabine Rohrmann, PhD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md.

The study appears in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition's February edition.

Study of 32,000 Men

Data came from more than 32,000 male health care workers enrolled in a long-term health study that began in 1986.

When the study started, the men were 46-70 years old (average age: 51).

The men completed diet surveys that asked how often they ate 131 foods, including various fruits and vegetables.

The men also reported their age, weight, ethnicity, physical activity, smoking, drinking, and medical history at the beginning of the study. They updated their medical information every two years.

Starting in 1992, the men noted any surgeries or symptoms of noncancerous enlarged prostate.

By 2000, a total of 6,092 men had had surgery or moderate to high symptoms of urinary problems associated with BPH.

Fewer With Enlarged Prostate

The 1986 diet survey shows the men's fruit and vegetable consumption ranged from a low of nearly three daily servings to a high of almost 10.

When the researchers took a closer look at the data, they found that high consumption of vegetables -- but not fruit -- seemed particularly beneficial for BPH.

The men who consumed the most vegetables were 11% less likely to have BPH surgery or moderate to high BPH symptoms by 2000, the study shows.

In addition, certain antioxidants – beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin C -- were associated with reduced risk of BPH. But those antioxidants had to come from fruits and vegetables, not supplements, according to the study.

The study doesn't prove that vegetables single-handedly reduced men's odds of developing BPH.

But the results held when the researchers adjusted for other factors that might affect the men's odds of developing the problem.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Rohrmann, S. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2007; vol 85: pp 523-529. WebMD Feature: "Enlarged Prostate: Symptoms and Treatment Options."

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