Men who eat more vegetables may be at lower risk for prostate cancer

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According to a report published in the January 5th, 2000, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a study by Dr. Alan R. Kristal and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle showed that men who ate 28 or more servings of vegetables per week had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer compared with men who ate fewer than 14 servings per week. Additionally men who ate three or more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week (such as cauliflower and broccoli) had a 41% decreased risk of prostate cancer compared with men who ate less than one serving per week, even after the researchers accounted for total vegetable intake.

The research studied 628 men aged 40 to 64 who had been newly diagnosed with prostate cancer, as well as 602 cancer-free men the same age.

Dr Kristal theorized that cruciferous vegetables, in particular, are high in substances called isothiocyanates, which activate enzymes that detoxify carcinogens.

Vegetables evolved mechanisms to avoid being eaten, such as cytochemicals that are quite bitter and toxic, Dr Kristal explained. Continuing he said:

"Humans evolved the ability to detoxify these cytochemicals, and the enzyme systems that we use to detoxify cytochemicals are the same enzymes that detoxify naturally occurring carcinogens. We think the effect is by upregulating these enzyme systems that has a protective effect against cancer."

All men are at risk for prostate cancer but the risk becomes higher as a man ages. Also, men who have had vasectomies have a significantly increased risk of prostate cancer - some studies have shown the risk after vasectomy, to be as high as 90 percent increased.

According to a recent CME on discovery Health about Prostate Cancer, only a small percentage of men will die from Prostate cancer. The guests on the panel discussed whether aggressive testing was appropriate for most men.

Most men are deficient in vegetable intake and especially veggies like broccoli (one of our former presidents was a famous broccoli hater). True, veggies taste like rabbit food and one may question, if they are so good for us, why God didn't make them taste like hamburgers or ice cream. However, studies for years have shown the good benefits of eating several servings of veggies a day. So eat your veggies and quit complaining! :)

Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2000;92:61-68
Discovery Health CME on Prostate Cancer 2009
Merck Manual