CancerLycopeneOmega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-6 Fatty AcidsProstateVitamin DVitaminsZinc

Is it possible to prevent prostate cancer with diet and supplements?

Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, Washington, reviewed the evidence.

First, the details.

  • Nutritional risk factors for prostate cancer among 9,559 participants in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial were reviewed.
  • The presence of cancer was determined by prostate biopsy, which was recommended because of an elevated prostate-specific antigen level or an abnormal digital rectal examination.
  • The biopsy was offered to all men at the end of the study.
  • Nutrient intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire and a structured supplement-use questionnaire.

And, the results.

  • Cancer was detected in 1,703 men.
  • No nutrients or supplements were associated with prostate cancer risk.
  • Risk of high-grade (aggressive) cancer was associated with high intake of polyunsaturated fats.
  • Intake of more dietary calcium was associated with a greater chance of low-grade (less aggressive) cancer vs high-grade cancer.
  • Intake of lycopene, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin E, and selenium, were not associated with the risk of cancer.
  • High intake of omega-6 fatty acids may increase prostate cancer risk because of their effects on inflammation and oxidative stress.

The bottom line?

There seem to be 2 take-away points from this review.

First, there’s no evidence that dietary or supplemental intake of nutrients often proposed to prevent prostate cancer, including lycopene, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin E, and selenium, was associated with risk of low- or high-grade cancer.

Second, polyunsaturated fat was associated with increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer. This suggests that more research into inflammation and other metabolic processes affected by these fats may be important in understanding prostate cancer etiology.

9/24/10 21:35 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.