Doctors are zeroing in on another reason for men to avoid a fatty diet: Prostate cancer. Dr. Mark Soloway, chairman of the urology department at the University of Miami School of Medicine, says medical researchers haven’t proved the link between fat consumption and prostate cancer yet, but a connection appears at least circumstantial: American men, for example, are more likely to get prostate cancer than men living in Asian countries, where diets are rich in protein and low-fat soy products and low in fatty meats and cheeses. He also notes that prostate cancer rates jump in Asian men who move to America. “It seems like there’s something to this,” Soloway says.
Prostate cancer researchers also are investigating other nutrition-related factors. One major study of 35,000 men in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico involves selenium and vitamin E, two antioxidants that may prevent the mutations that cells undergo in becoming cancerous. Selenium is found in fish and Brazil nuts, while vegetables, nuts and egg yolks are rich in vitamin E. The study started in 2001, with final results due in 2011, although researchers might publish their initial findings within a year or two.
Also, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa is looking into green tea’s potential in preventing prostate cancer. Led by Nagi Kumar, Moffitt’s director of nutrition research and an associate professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine, the study will evaluate Polyphenon E, a drug derived from green tea. In July, the National Cancer Institute awarded the study’s researchers $3.6 million over five years.
While medical researchers continue working on ways to prevent prostate cancer, Dr. Daniel Cohen, a urologist at Florida Hospital in central Florida, says doctors already have a reliable way to prevent the cancer’s worst consequences. “The way to prevent bad outcomes is
to find it early, watch it and treat it,” Cohen says. “Early screening means early cures.”
BY THE NUMBERS
» 218,890 — Projected number of new cases of prostate cancer this year in the United States
» 27,050 — Projected number of deaths from prostate cancer this year in the United States
» 2,117 — Number of Floridians who died from prostate cancer in 2004, the latest available year
» 17.8% — Percentage of American men who will be affected by prostate cancer
» 61% — How much more likely African-American men will develop prostate cancer than white men
» 2.5 — How many more times it’s likely that African-Americans will die from prostate cancer than whites
Sources: National Cancer Institute, University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, Prostate Cancer Foundation
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. The higher the level — measured in nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood — the more likely that cancer is present:
» 0 to 2.5 ng/ml — low
» 2.6 to 10 ng/ml — slightly to moderately elevated
» 10 to 19.9 ng/ml — moderately elevated
» 20 ng/ml or more — significantly elevated
Source: National Cancer Institute
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