Christine Sloat, MS, RD, CDN
Did you know that prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among American men? While Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is not until September, the American Cancer Society recognizes June as Men’s Health and Cancer Awareness Month. And with more than 220,000 new cases diagnosed each year, there is never a wrong time to discuss this dangerous disease.
As a dietitian, I am often asked about foods for preventative health. And regardless of the condition, my answer is often the same: there are rarely specific foods for prevention, but rather lifestyle practices that can help reduce your risk. While almonds, avocados and other Vitamin E sources may be recommended in prevention of prostate cancer, it takes more than just nuts and guacamole for one to stay healthy. In fact, the research that supports the role of specific nutrients in cancer prevention is still ongoing and thus far from conclusive!
But prevention is extremely important, especially for men over 65 or those with a family history of the disease.
So then what can you do? Here is what the medical field knows to be the best guidelines for reducing risk of prostate and other cancers:
- Manage your weight
Maintaining a healthy BMI and decreasing abdominal adiposity (belly fat) are associated with a significantly decreased risk of diagnosis.
Studies evaluating the role of physical activity and prostate cancer have shown that vigorous exercise can reduce the risk of dying from the disease by 61%. All the more reason to reach the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity a day!
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
Shoot for 2-3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day. While specific foods may not play a major role in cancer prevention, the cumulative effect of a diet high in fruits and vegetables can work to promote health and well-being.
- Eat healthy fats
This means replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated alternatives, including olive oil, avocados, fish and nut
Again, no specific food will protect you from cancer, but a shift in overall dietary and lifestyle habits may reduce your risk and be the key to a long and healthy life!
If you’re not already doing what you can to stay fit and reduce your risks for cancer and other diseases, it may mean a change to your lifestyle. Lifestyle changes – particularly developing newer, better habits – is not easy. If you’re ready to take control of your life through better diet and exercise, but are having trouble committing to the changes and making it happen, working with a Capital EAP counselor may be a good first step.