A diet full of red vegetables, like tomatoes, apricots, guavas, and watermelons may prevent men from developing prostate cancer, according to Barbara Quinn, a nutritionist affiliated with the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. The secret of red vegetables would lie on a substance called lycopene.

The reddish pigment that gives color to vegetables and fruits has been associated with a decrement of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. Moreover, that type of fruits contain nutrients that can work together against cancer.

Credit: HealthiNation

According to the National Cancer Institute (NC), elevated levels of PSA have been associated with prostate cancer. Currently, blood tests to analyze PSA levels, are conducted to monitor the progression of the disease, among men.

It is not clear if lycopene is equally effective when consumed through supplements, said Barbara Quinn. So eating lots of red vegetables may be a safe bet. A theory suggests that when lycopene is cooked with healthy fat, it can be better absorbed by the body.

For instance, tomatoes cooked in olive oil are a very potent source of lycopene, in comparison with raw tomatoes alone. Another great nutrient found in red vegetables, that can join the forces against prostate cancer, is vitamin D.

The NCI said that this “hormone-like” vitamin may have a protective effect on cells located in the prostate gland. It is not clear if vitamin D supplements are effective at the task, but men diagnosed with prostate cancer tend to show lower levels of the same nutrient.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the country, after skin cancer, said the NCI. The scientific community has been interested in determining the role of nutrition in the development of the disease, however, studies in the field are relatively new.

Red vegetables, not red meat: Harvard said western diet may lead to a higher risk of prostate cancer

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) have said that diets dominated by red and processed meat, high-fat dairy foods, and refined grains, may be related to an increase of chances of developing prostate cancer.

Currently, there are three million Americans living with prostate cancer. According to Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study, there is little evidence about the impact of nutrition in prostate cancer, however, researchers found out that healthy foods may really impact its development.

“There is currently very little evidence to counsel men living with prostate cancer on how they can modify their lifestyle to improve survival. Our results suggest that a heart-healthy diet with proper food may benefit these men by specifically reducing their chances of dying of prostate cancer,” he said in a press release published by the HSPH.

The study analyzed data from more than 900 men, taken for almost 14 years. They were divided into two groups, one followed the Western diet, which contains high contents of reading meat and fat. A second group had a “more prudent” pattern, that contained vegetables, fruits, fish, and whole grains.

Men who followed the Western diet had a 2.5X higher risk of prostate cancer-related death, and a 67 percent increased risk of dying from other causes when comparing them to men who consumed vegetables and fruits.

Which is the impact of prostate cancer in the United States

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the country, after lung cancer, as reported by the NCI. The disease tends to develop more among African-American men than in white men. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be nearly 180,000 new cases of the disease in the country within 2016.

Moreover, about 26,000 men in the country will die as a consequence of the disease. Most men diagnosed are older than 65 years old, so people are recommended to talk with their doctors about when they should start screening tests.

Source: Monterey Herald