Diet Tips for Advanced Prostate Cancer

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 27, 2020

As you go through prostate cancer treatment, there are foods you can eat -- and others to avoid -- that can boost your health. Although there's no magic diet cure for prostate cancer, your eating habits can make a difference in your outlook.

"Across all cancers, and especially prostate cancer, a heart-healthy, sensible, and modest sugar intake diet is absolutely helpful for cancer care," says Mark Pomerantz, MD. He's a medical oncologist at the Center for Genitourinary Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Treatments for prostate cancer can affect your metabolism (how food is turned into energy), strength, and stamina, he says. When you eat foods that support your heart and improve your overall health, your body can handle those treatments better.

"Along with exercise, a diet that helps you maintain as lean a body as possible is very valuable and assists in our ability to treat advanced prostate cancer as aggressively as we want," Pomerantz says.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

A plate filled with colorful fruits and vegetables raises your fiber and antioxidant levels. Both benefit your cancer care.

What to Ask Your Doctor About Prostate CancerSo many things run through your mind when you’re first diagnosed with prostate cancer. Here’s how to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your doctor about treatment. 192



[MUSIC PLAYING]

BRADLEY CARTHON: When people are

diagnosed with prostate cancer,

it's a life-changing moment.

And there are so many things

that run through their mind.



When patients come

into the office,

they're nervous,

they're anxious, they're

afraid because they've heard

the "C word"--

cancer.



As we began our conversation

and we talk

about the various options,

my goal is to try to place

the patient at ease

and understand

that although this is

a life-changing diagnosis,

that it is

a manageable diagnosis,

and we're trying to preserve

their quality of life.



One of the first things that we

encourage people to ask

would be, well, what stage is

my cancer?

How advanced are the cells

in my body?

And what does this mean

for my livelihood and my life

expectancy?



Well, we encourage patients

to ask what exactly will take

place.

We can also ask,

who's going to be a part

of my care team?



Many times the physician works

with a nurse or a nurse

practitioner.



We often include a pharmacist

and a dietitian, because this is

a lifestyle change.

And we want all

of those facilities

and amenities

available to our patients.



With regards to side effects,

we encourage each patient to ask

specifically

about their situation.

For example, many people wonder,

will side effects be a part

of my life from now on?

In other cases,

people may wonder, well,

do these side effects affect me

for the period on which I'm

on a certain treatment?

And all of those questions

are very, very important

and pertinent.



For each patient, we encourage

them to discuss

with their physician

the length of time

that they may have those side

effects depending

on their treatment chosen.



Patients may wonder, well,

can I still exercise?

Can I still travel?

Can I still eat the things

that I enjoy doing?

Can I still play with my kids

and volunteer at my church?



Many times patients will ask,

well, how will this affect

my lifestyle?

Will this affect my relationship

with my loved ones?

And unfortunately, with prostate

treatments, many times it can

affect certain areas that might

affect one's spouse,

for example.



Many times the partner

of our patients

have many questions as well.

Sometimes they may ask, can

cancer be spread

through intimate relations,

or how can we have relations

if there are side effects

from the medicines?

And we encourage them that we

have clinics that focus

on the intimacies of a man

and his partner.



We have many, many other groups

and clinics and clinicians that

can help with side effects

such as erectile dysfunction

or incontinence or pain.

We have people that help

our patients with all

those areas.



We just encourage them

that there is no dumb question.

Anything that is on your mind

and that can worry you

or that you have some concern

about is fair game.

And that should be brought up

with your doctor.



I encourage patients to write

things down as they come

to their mind.

And I often tell them to have

a very good

heart-to-heart conversation

with your physician

and to understand that there's

no question that is too small.

Bradley Carthon, MD, PHD<br>Emory Winship Cancer Institute/delivery/ad/29/ad29c8fe-3d06-4f04-aaab-d614026bae91/questions-advanced-prostate-cancer_,400k,1000k,750k,.mp405/25/2018 18:16:00650350doctor/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/questions_advanced_prostate_cancer_video/650x350_questions_advanced_prostate_cancer_video.jpg091e9c5e819c22c4

Continued

The high fiber content in fruits and vegetables may help lower your testosterone levels. That may be useful because testosterone helps stimulate tumor growth. Fiber may also bind to cancer-causing substances and move them out of your body.

Antioxidants help rid your body of free radicals -- molecules that damage your cells. They can affect the growth of cancer. A diet full of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables helps keep free radicals at bay.

Pomerantz says researchers are checking to see if certain antioxidants in supplement form, like vitamin E and selenium, could actually raise the chances of getting prostate cancer for some people.

"There are hints that there are a subset of people with prostate cancer who benefit considerably from antioxidants, and there are others with a rare specific genetic variant who don't," Pomerantz says. "There are studies ongoing to see if we can figure out exactly who fits in each category."

Always check with your doctor before taking supplements.

Choose Heart-Healthy Fats

The most common form of treatment for advanced prostate cancer is hormone therapy. It lowers the amount of testosterone in your body, which has a direct effect on the amount of fat you gain and keep on your body.

Continued

"Testosterone is what gives men their favorable muscle-to-fat ratio," Pomerantz says. "And when we take that hormone away, we put men at risk for losing muscle mass and gaining fat tissue, particularly around the abdomen. It's this fat tissue that's associated with heart disease and diabetes."

That's why it's especially important to move away from high-fat choices such as red meat and dairy and get your protein from heart-healthy sources such as fish, which is full of omega-3 fatty acids, and plants.

Choices include:

  • Fish such as salmon
  • Lean poultry
  • Nuts
  • Beans

Avoid processed lunch meats with nitrates and charred meats, which are linked to cancer.

Watch Your Sugar

Sex and Intimacy After Prostate CancerA urologist weighs in on the impact cancer treatment can have on both a patient and their partner’s romantic life.137

It's a major concern

for patients about how

the impact of prostate cancer

treatment

has on sexual function

in general,

but also sexual intimacy

with partners.

I think the key thing in terms

of discussing these issues

with patients is just

at the beginning,

get an assessment of what

their relationship status is,

what their needs are,

both the patient themselves

but also their partner.



That's critical before even

venturing into the pros and cons

of different treatments,

or the expectations the patient

should have moving forward.

Because every patient is

different in terms of what

they value.



The impacts that prostate cancer

treatment has on the patient

really depends on the type

of treatment that they receive.

There's three main classes

of treatment.

Surgery, which is removal

of the prostate, radiation

therapy, which is treatment

of the cancer by leaving

the prostate there but trying

to kill the cancer

cells with radiation.



And then in some cases for men

who have more advanced cancers,

they have therapies that affect

testosterone

in the male sexual hormones.

So they all affect

sexual function

in different ways.

Surgery tends to greatly impact

the ability of men to have

a normal erection.

But also it can impact

other aspects of sexual function

like ejaculation or orgasm

slightly.



Radiation has less of an impact

on erections, but can have more

of an impact

on pelvic discomfort and pain.

But it also can impact issues

related to ejaculation as well.



In terms of the third class

that I mentioned, the hormone

therapies, that really impacts

both erections,

but more so the sexual drive,

or libido.

Because it's taking away

testosterone

can impact sexual function

in that way.

And all have different issues

when it comes to sexual intimacy

and function after treatment.



A key thing across all treatment

types for all men with prostate

cancer and their partners

is trying to identify mechanisms

that they can find support

for their relationship,

identifying counselors

or support groups to help

patients kind of get

through that survivorship phase

where things are different.

And support groups

and counselors and sex

therapists can go a long way

in terms of helping patients

through that process.

Christopher Filson, MD./delivery/86/c4/86c4da05-b0d9-4b9f-90a8-9dc470a0b569/funded-expert-feature-sex-and-intimacy_,2500k,4500k,750k,400k,1000k,.mp402/21/2019 12:00:00650350photo of mature couple/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/welcome_romance_after_treatment_video/650x350_welcome_romance_after_treatment_video.jpg091e9c5e81bf8143

Sugar may not cause or worsen cancer, but there is an indirect link between the two. So while you don't need to skip sugar altogether, it's still a good idea to keep your levels low.

Continued

"When you change sugar levels in a petri dish, it absolutely affects cancer cells," Pomerantz says. "What I'm not so sure about is whether you can re-create those conditions in the same way inside your body and affect the course of a cancer."

High sugar foods such as cakes, cookies, and sodas raise the amount of calories you take in without much nutritional benefit. Eating lots of sugar is a quick route to weight gain and extra body fat, which raises your risk of health problems and the chance that your cancer will come back.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is full of carbohydrates. When you drink a lot of it, you're adding sugar into your system. You might gain weight, which puts pressure on your heart and can raise the chances that your cancer comes back.

Too much alcohol can also limit your doctor's choices to treat you.

"Alcohol affects your liver," Pomerantz says. "And many of the cancer drugs that we use are metabolized by the liver. When you put undue pressure on your liver, it can affect our ability to deliver certain medicines."

Alcohol can also keep your body from processing and absorbing certain essential vitamins and nutrients.

WebMD Feature

Sources

SOURCES:

Mark Pomerantz, MD, medical oncologist, Center for Genitourinary Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Prostate Cancer Foundation: "Prostate Cancer Diet."

Cedars Sinai: "Prostate Cancer."

National Cancer Institute: "Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention."

Mayo Clinic: "Stage 4 Prostate Cancer."

Oncology Nutrition: "Prostate Cancer and Diet."

Cancer Prevention Research: "Weight gain is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence after prostatectomy in the PSA era."

American Cancer Society: "Alcohol Use and Cancer."

Cancer.Net: "Alcohol."

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