July 24, 2007 -- Men who often eat broccoli and cauliflower may be less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer than men who skimp on those vegetables.
That news appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The finding comes from a study of more than 29,000 U.S. men aged 55-74 who were followed for an average of four years.
When the study started, the men didn't have prostate cancer. They completed surveys about the foods they typically ate.
During the study, the men were regularly screened for prostate cancer. A total of 1,338 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, including 520 men with aggressive prostate cancer.
The men who reported frequently eating cruciferous vegetables -- which include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and turnip greens -- were 40% less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer during the study than men who rarely ate those vegetables.
Cauliflower vs. Prostate Cancer?
Overall, the men's reported consumption of fruits and vegetables didn't appear to affect their chances of developing aggressive prostate cancer or less-aggressive prostate cancer.
But cruciferous vegetables were an exception.
Eating lots of cruciferous vegetables was linked to a lesser likelihood of being diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer. Broccoli and cauliflower were the standout vegetables.
Men who reported eating cauliflower more than once per week were 52% less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer than men who reported eating cauliflower less than once a month.
Men who reported eating broccoli more than once per week were 45% less likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer than men who reported eating broccoli less than once a month.
What's so special about cruciferous vegetables? They're rich in compounds that may help protect cells from DNA damage, note the researchers, who included Victoria Kirsh, PhD, of Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto.
Prostate Cancer Diet: No Promises
The researchers aren't promising men that eating those vegetables prevents aggressive prostate cancer. Scientists don't yet have a diet guaranteed to prevent prostate cancer.
However, there's no reason not to eat a diet rich in vegetables, as many health experts have long recommended.
The men in Kirsh's study weren't assigned to change their diets to directly test cruciferous vegetables against aggressive prostate cancer.
Kirsh's team considered many prostate cancer risk factors when they analyzed the data. But the researchers couldn't control for every possible influence. In addition, some men may have misreported their vegetable intake.
- Does your family have a history of prostate cancer? Discuss the risk factors and what you can do on WebMD's Prostate Cancer Support Group message board.