Diet and Lifestyle and Their Role in Prostate Cancer Risk

You know the effect healthy eating and exercise has on your waistline. But could it help with prostate cancer prevention, too?

Medically reviewed in September 2020

Updated on February 1, 2021

Who doesn’t love getting something for free—an upgrade on your business flight, a free glass of wine at dinner or a free ticket to a sellout concert—especially when you’re not expecting it? Well, here’s a health benefit that’s kind of like that. Turns out, the same healthy habits that are great for your heart and waistline may also lower your prostate cancer risk. 

Powerful prostate protection 
What is the connection between prostate cancer and diet?  

In one study, researchers from Duke University School of Medicine studied the diets of 430 military veterans, 156 of whom had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. They found that men who ate more high-quality complex carbohydrates (think whole grains) and less fat, protein and simple sugars had a 60 to 70 percent lower risk of prostate cancer. Another bonus: The fiber-rich diets seemed to reduce the chances of aggressive cancers by up to 80 percent. 

Another study of 6,500 men looked at the link between metabolic syndrome and men’s chances of developing prostate cancer. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors—including a larger waistline, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL (“good cholesterol”) or elevated triglycerides (fats in the blood)—that hike the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. The researchers, from Duke and Washington University in St. Louis, found that men who had two or more of these factors had a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer. And for each additional factor a man had, the risk grew even more. (Both studies were presented at the annual meeting for the American Urological Association.) 

How do you avoid metabolic syndrome? By keeping your weight down, exercising and eating a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. 

You know the drill 
Eat smart. Exercise. Watch your weight. Log good sleep. You hear the same message time and time again because it's just the right thing to do. And ultimately, it may be the best thing you can do to prevent prostate cancer. Here are more smart ways to lower your prostate cancer risk factors. 

  • Ditch extra pounds by remaking your eating habits. Try the Mediterranean diet to slim down, get more nutritional bang for your buck—and boost your overall health.  
  • Sleep like you mean it. Developing healthy sleep habits for a good night's rest not only makes for a brighter day, but it benefits your prostate, too.

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