Men's Health Detroit MI

Are there any ailments that omega-3 fatty acids aren’t good for? It now looks like these heart-friendly nutrients, found in cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel, may help prevent prostate cancer, too.

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Spotlight on Prostate Health

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By Michael Castleman

Prostate cancer is the Rodney Dangerfield of malignancies. It gets no respect, or at least a lot less than it deserves. The disease is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men, accounting for more than twice as many diagnoses as male lung cancer. In terms of the number of new cases, and the percentage that prove fatal, the statistics are similar to those for breast cancer. But unlike with breast cancer, there is no sense of national urgency about the disease, no Run for the Cure to sign up for.

Still, a diagnosis of prostate cancer is just as frightening for a man as news of breast cancer is for a woman. And even when prostate cancer isn’t fatal, treatment for it can wreak havoc with the quality of a man’s life: The standard therapies often cause both impotence and incontinence.

The good news is that some simple preventive strategies—mainly dietary—can reduce your chances of getting the disease in the first place. “Without bending yourself out of shape,” says John Hibbs, a naturopathic physician at Bastyr University in Seattle, “I would estimate that you can reduce risk by as much as 50 percent.” (Keep in mind that we’re talking only about prostate cancer here; to reduce the symptoms of prostate enlargement—an unrelated ailment.

Preventive efforts are particularly important for those at high risk: men over 50, those with a family history (having a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles risk), and African-American men. For reasons that remain unclear, African-Americans are far more likely than whites to develop the disease. Here are your best bets for keeping it at bay.

Eat more fish (and omega-3s)…
Are there any ailments that omega-3 fatty acids aren’t good for? It now looks like these heart-friendly nutrients, found in cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel, may help prevent prostate cancer, too. In lab tests, they’ve been shown to stop prostate tumor cells from growing. And when Harvard researchers tracked 48,000 American men for 12 years, the men who ate fish more than three times a week were 44 percent less likely to develop metastatic prostate cancer than those who ate it less than twice a month.
What to do: Good low-mercury species include freshwater trout, wild salmon, and scallops. Or consider taking fish oil supplements, which carry a low risk of mercury contamination and are available at health food stores. Follow label directions. …and less meat and dairy

America’s cowboy heritage has made thick, juicy steaks seem manly. But if you want to avoid prostate cancer, steer clear of steer: Many studies suggest that a diet high in saturated fats can double or triple risk. Compared with American men, who chow down on pepperoni pizza and cheeseburgers, Japanese men, who eat a diet much lower in animal fat, have a lower risk of prostate cancer—until they move to this country. Once they adopt an American diet, their risk jumps, too.

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