We often hear the adage that food is the best medicine, and when it comes to prostate cancer that may actually be true. That’s because new research found that three specific foods may have the power to prevent and treat prostate cancer.
In a study published in the medical journal Precision Oncology, researchers found that compounds in turmeric, apples and grapes had the power to starve and shrink prostate cancer tumors. The researchers found that phytonutrients—plant nutrients—found in the spice turmeric, along with apple peels and grape skins starve and shrink prostate cancer tumors.
That is potentially great news for the millions of men suffering from the disease. This year alone, the American Cancer Society estimates that over 161,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease, and over 26,700 men will likely die from it. The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut and is situated between the bladder and the penis. Prostate cancer most commonly affects men over 50, African-American men, those who eat a fatty diet, and/or have an immediate male relative with the disease (father, brother).
In the Precision Oncology study, researchers used a novel screening method of 142 natural compounds to determine which ones might be most effective to halt the growth of prostate cancer cells. The three compounds that showed the greatest capacity to halt prostate cancer cell growth, included:
Curcumin—the natural pigment that gives the curry spice its brilliant yellow color
Ursolic acid—found in apple peels
Resveratrol—found in purple grapes and berries
They also discovered an ideal combination of ursolic acid with either curcumin or resveratrol to prevent tumor growth in animals. Of course, more research needs to be done and the phytonutrients need to be assessed on humans, but considering that there are no harmful side-effects of eating more of the foods that contain these natural compounds, it seems wise for men to add more of them to their diet. Researchers found that these three compounds prevented the uptake of the amino acid glutamine, which is needed for prostate cancer cells to grow and survive. They found that preventing glutamine absorption literally starved cancer cells to death.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting men. Earlier research showed that up to 40 percent of cancers are preventable with a healthy diet, regular physical activity and maintenance of an optimal body weight. More than 20 percent of cancers can be avoided by eating more fruit and vegetables.
Symptoms of prostate problems (including prostate cancer) include: straining to urinate, little or no urine when attempting to urinate, frequent urination, pain during urination, erectile dysfunction, painful ejaculation, blood in the urine or semen and/or hip/pelvic/low back pain. While having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean prostate problems or cancer, it is best to consult a physician to rule them out.
How to Benefit
Ideally, eat apples (with the peel left on) with purples grapes or berries to reap the study benefits. Alternatively, whole chopped apples can be combined with the spice curcumin. Blend lightly-cooked apples with some turmeric to make an apple sauce, which can be eaten on its own, added to smoothies or use as the sauce base for curries. Keep in mind that diet alone may not be sufficient to combat prostate cancer. The researchers used high doses of the phytonutrients, higher than is normally obtained from diet alone.