Prostate Cancer, Isoflavones and Polyphenols

One of the most galling statistics when it comes to prostate cancer is that men in America are much more likely to be sufferers of the disease than are men from Asia or Europe. There are many theories as to why this is so, but one in particular stands out diet. It seems that what American men eat affects the illnesses rate of occurrence.

For instance, while Asian-born men have much lower rates of prostate cancer development than American-born men, the rates tend to equalize after Asian men have lived in the United States for a period of time.

This shift in rates is still unaccounted for, but as mentioned before, the Western diet might have something to do with it.

High Fat and Carb Diets

Unlike Asian diets, Western diets are high in fat and carbohydrates which might be the reason why prostate cancer rates rise for those who subscribe to them. Recent research has shown a connection between prostate cancer and obesity, although the full ramifications are still under investigation.

There is, of course, another possible explanation, and that is that Western diets lack something that Eastern diets are rich with. A nutrient found in Asian diets might be conspicuously absent from most American dinner tables, and this nutrient might be the key to prostate cancer protection.

While there is currently a scramble to discover what this nutrient (or nutrients) is, there are two primary candidates: the polyphenols in green tea and the isoflavones that can be found in soy. These food items, of course, can be found in material quantities in Asian-style diets, but are negligible in most American ones.

What are Isoflavones?

Isoflavones are nutrients that have been found to interrupt cell growth pathways and angiogenesis. In other words, it might play a role in how cancer cells grow and develop. Namely, they slow them down. Isoflavones also affect how the body produces, uses, and gets rid of hormones like testosterone and estrogen, which cancer cells feed on to grow.

Thus, the isoflavones are potentially important variables in the development and progress of all cancers, including prostate cancer.

Soy is one of the foods rich in isoflavones, so cancer patients are encouraged to consume this food item. Although past research studies have produced conflicting reports about the effectiveness of soy-based products on prostate cancer, it is clear that the isoflavones themselves lead to better overall health. That alone should be reason enough for more people to consume more of it.

What are Polyphenols?

Like isoflavones, polyphenols are nutrients that disrupt the growth pathways of cancer cells. They also hinder the development and progress of angiogenesis, which is the process by which tumors form new blood vessels to further their own growth.

As with isoflavones, it is unclear just how much polyphenols need to be consumed so their benefits can be derived. One often-cited study found that green tea can help prevent cancer.

The problem is that the amount needed, 10 cups a day, might be a little excessive. No wonder the companies that sell tea keep citing these results. However, other polyphenol-rich beverages like red wine may also confer the nutrients benefits, even with just one cup a day.

Although the research on this area is still ongoing, it holds much promise. If a few simple dietary changes can lower the risk of prostate cancer, then much progress will have been against this dread disease.