Evidence-Based Advice for Prostate Cancer Prevention

By Dr. Sharon Gurm BSc, ND, Naturopathic Physician, Clinic Founder & Clinical Director

The lifetime risk for developing invasive prostate cancer is 1 in 6, making it the most common cancer among North American men. Prostate cancer usually starts as a slow-growing cancer, but can become more aggressive 10-15 years later.

Based on the most current research, here are my top 5 tips for prostate cancer prevention:

Prostate Cancer Prevention Tip #1: Choose your fats wisely.

A high fat diet, especially one that is high in saturated fats, is a key risk factor for prostate cancer. Saturated fats are predominately found in animal foods, such as dairy products and meats. Fats are not the enemy as long as you choose healthy fats, particularly omega-3’s. In fact, omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are cancer-protective. Good sources of omega-3 include flax oil and cold-water fish. Aim to consume fish 3x/wk. If you consume red meat, choose grass-fed over corn-fed and processed meats. The latter is high in saturated fats, while grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.

Prostate Cancer Prevention Tip #2: Mind your blood-sugar levels.

Every food and food combination has a “glycemic impact”, which indicates the subsequent rise in blood sugar after you eat a snack or meal. Refined grains, fruit juices, soft drinks and sugar all have high glycemic impact, which raise your blood sugar. The prostate is particularly sensitive to a growth-stimulating effects of IGF-1 (insulin growth factor – 1). A high-glycemic diet will increase IGF-1 levels in the body, while a low-glycemic diet will reduce IGF-1. Evidence-Based Advice for Prostate Cancer PreventionFollow a low-glycemic diet by adopting a macronutrient approach to food selection: every meal, make sure you’ve got each of the following on your plate:

Complex carbohydrate (25% of your meal): such as brown rice, millet, quinoa, yam, squash or legumes

Protein (25% of your meal): fish, chicken, grass-feed meat, free-range egg, legumes or seeds (pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds are a great source of plant protein)

Fibre (40% of your meal): vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, collard greens, cauliflower, carrots, bok choy, cabbage or a salad of mixed greens and romaine lettuce

Healthy fat (10% of your meal): oils such as flax seed oil, hemp oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil or nuts and seeds such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts.

Prostate Cancer Prevention Tip #3: Maintain a healthy body composition.

Yes, this means exercise! Find a physical activity you love to do and make it part of your daily routine, preferably 30-45 minutes a day. To maintain muscle mass, strength training should be a part of your exercise routine. To reduce fat mass, you need cardio and strength training together. The lower your fat mass, the less chance of converting testosterone to estrogen. Estrogen promotes inflammation in the prostate, increasing cell proliferation, which can lead to cancer. Ultimately, a healthy diet (see tip #3 above) and routine exercise go hand-in-hand – you need both to achieve and maintain a healthy body composition.

Prostate Cancer Prevention Tip #4: Check your vitamin D levels annually.

Several studies show that men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the summer-autumn seasons are more likely to survive than men diagnosed in the winter-spring season….does this have anything to do with vitamin D levels? Quite possibly. Get your serum vitamin D levels checked in the fall. If your levels are low, supplement accordingly with vitamin D3.

Prostate Cancer Prevention Tip#5: Consume 2 tbsp of flax seeds daily.

The lignans in flax inhibit the development and growth of prostate tumors, presumably by binding xenobiotics (estrogen and estrogen-mimicking agents) in the stool. The extra fibre from flax seeds also helps maintain bowel regularity, supporting the elimination of toxins from the body.

Following these tips may not guarantee that you won’t get prostate cancer in your lifetime (note: many men will develop indolent, slow-growing prostate cancer but will not die from it), but it will reduce your chances of developing invasive prostate cancer – the type that can shorten your lifespan and have significant impact on your health.

For more information, or to book an appointment with Dr. Gurm, call (604) 949-0077 or email us at info@portmoodyhealth.com!


Rosato V, Edefonti V, et al. Nutrient-based dietary patterns and prostate cancer risk: a case-control study from Italy. Cancer Causes Control. 2014 Apr;25(4):525-32. doi: 10.1007/s10552-014-0356-8.

Kim H, Yokoyama W, et al. TRAMP Prostate Tumor Growth Is Slowed by Walnut Diets Through Altered IGF-1 Levels, Energy Pathways, and Cholesterol Metabolism. J Med Food. 2014, Oct 29.

Cao Y, Nimptsch K, et al. Pre-diagnostic plasma IGFBP-1, IGF-1 and risk of prostate cancer. Int J Cancer. 2014, Oct 27.

Antonelli JA, Jones LW, et al. Exercise and prostate cancer risk in a cohort of veterans undergoing prostate needle biopsy. J Urol. 2009 Nov;182(5):2226-31. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2009.07.028.

Weinstein S, Mondul Alison, et al. Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D, vitamin D-binding protein and risk of prostate cancer. Int J Cancer. June 2013, 132(12): 2940-2947. doi: 10.1002/ijc.27969.

Azrad M, Vollmer RT, et al. Flaxseed-Derived Enterolactone Is Inversely Associated with Tumor Cell Proliferation in Men with Localized Prostate Cancer. Journal of Medicinal Food. April 2013, 16(4): 357-360. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.0159.

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