High blood cholesterol levels accelerate the growth of prostate tumors.
Led by Dr. Michael Freeman at Children’s Hospital Boston, scientists injected human prostate cancer cells into mice. They fed half the mice a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. In these mice, blood cholesterol levels shot up, and, observed the scientists, cholesterol accumulated in the outer membranes of the tumor cells, activating a chemical “cell-survival” pathway called Akt, which has been found to help tumors survive and thrive.
Six weeks after the tumor cells were injected, the incidence of tumors more than doubled in the mice on the high-fat, high-cholesterol diets. Activation of Akt, Dr. Freeman and his team concluded, enabled the tumor cells to resist chemical cues that trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death).
These findings echo previous research on populations that have linked prostate cancer with high levels of cholesterol in the blood as well as with Western diets high in cholesterol- and saturated fat-rich foods like red meat and full-fat dairy products.
They also mirror research from UCLA scientist Dr. James Barnard. When Dr. Barnard and his team mixed blood samples of men on a typical high-fat, high-cholesterol American diet in dishes with prostate cancer cells, the cancer cells grew vigorously. Fewer than 3% showed apoptosis. When blood samples of these same men were tested after they had completed two weeks at the Pritikin Longevity Center, close to 40% of the prostate cancer cells had died off.**
Preventing prostate cancer
States Dr. Barnard: “There’s every reason to believe that if you catch prostate cancer early on and adopt the Pritikin Program, you can significantly increase your odds of living your life free of invasive prostate cancer.”
Based on the preponderance of scientific evidence, says Dr. James Kenney, Nutrition Research Specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center®, key dietary recommendations for the prevention and control of prostate cancer include:
- Reduce intake of red meats and fatty dairy products.
- Avoid oil-based salad dressing.
- Avoid mayonnaise, butter, and margarine.
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake to at least 7 servings per day, especially lycopene-rich produce like tomatoes and watermelons.
- Increase dietary fiber to at least 35 grams per day.
- Incorporate low-fat soy products, up to 40 grams per day. (A simple, very palatable tip for many men is using soy milk instead of nonfat dairy milk.)
- Get sufficient vitamin D from sunshine and food sources.
- Lose excess body fat.
Supportive ancillary food, botanicals, and phytonutrients include:
- Cruciferous vegetables, such are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. (They are rich in indole-3-carbinol.)
- Vitamin D supplements (1,000 to 2,000 units/day) or 10 to 15 minutes a day of sunlight
- Green tea
* Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2005; 115: 959.
** Prostate, 2003; 56: 201.