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As well as sharing experiences with our friendly online community, registered members are able to contact our experienced online team. The Centre is staffed during office hours and the online team aim to reply within 24 hours.

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Prostate cancer and nutrition

Started by SusieQ   on 01 February 2017 at 09:51
Edited on 01 February 2017 at 09:53

Hello everyone,

You may be aware that CarolineH (online nutrition advisor) and myself, meet up once a month to discuss a topical issue in cancer and nutrition.

The group is called 'Food for Thought' and members can join in the 'live' discussions, ask questions before and during the sessions...and have access to an edited transcript, afterwards.

In January, Caroline and I explored food and prostate cancer - and you can read the transcript below, to get a taster of the type of topics we cover:-

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Hello everyone,

Today Caroline and I discussed diet and prostate cancer - a huge subject which we have covered broadly - but may leave you with more questions. Please do message us, either here, on the group page, or by personal message.

I've added some references at the bottom of the transcript, for further reading...

Warm wishes

Sue

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Nutrition and prostate cancer transcript

susieq: Hello and welcome to Food for Thought today :)

carolineh: Hello Susie good to be in touch. Where does the time go? Are we alone today?

susieq: I think we will be,...shall we carry on anyway, and we can pick up with new people if they join in.

carolineh: OK have you any specific questions that you would like me to tackle or shall we talk about prostate cancer generally.

susieq: I think if we start by outlining what prostate cancer is...and then work through a number of issues related to it...

carolineh: OK…Before I start I do want to make one important point. That if anyone is having radio for prostate cancer, then it is important that they do not change their diets until the treatment has finished..

susieq: Radiotherapy? Yes, that sounds a good point...why would that be, Caroline?

carolineh: The reasons are that when you have treatment the position of the prostate is scanned so that the treatment will target directly. A radiologist explained to me that changing the diet may introduce more wind, which might shift the position of the prostate

susieq: Ah, OK...I'm aware that the gentlemen having radiotherapy have to have a full bladder and an empty lower bowel, for each treatment, so I guess position is crucial...

carolineh: Another important point when you are having the treatment it can cause diarrhoea in some people - so the advice that I am going to give will not apply until the bowel has settled down. If someone does suffer from diarrhoea, then a low fibre diet will be necessary for a while.

Meanwhile, the main advice for prostate cancer is similar to any other cancer, with some special points. If possible, the diet should be full of vegetables with some fruit, good quality protein and some whole grain carbs. It is important to avoid the damaged fats and keep sugar and sugary foods minimal.

Try to eat the good fats which come from the oily types of fish, nuts and seeds and their oils and butters. These are rich in omega 3 which has been shown to be beneficial for PC and anti-inflammatory.

susieq: I imagine many men when newly diagnosed with prostate cancer may take the opportunity to review their diet... as part of taking control over what is happening to them.

carolineh: Yes -  because there is a great deal of evidence to show that it is very beneficial. Of course the treatment for prostate cancer can cause many side effects like hot flushes, weight gain, fatigue and bone changes as with all hormone related cancers.

susieq: There are so many different treatment pathways too…so for example, some may be on active surveillance, and that's a good time to make long term dietary changes.

carolineh: …and these days a lot of oncologists decide on the wait and see observational route. Also if treatments are discussed many times it is the option of the patient that is taken into consideration and of course how advanced the cancer may be or if it has spread.

susieq: There's often questions asked about the benefits of a supplement - Pomi-T - which you can probably explain much better than I...

carolineh: Yes This is interesting. Pomi-T was developed by the oncologist Robert Thomas who works in Oxford. Through his research into plant compounds he discovered that a combination of green tea extract, pomegranate extract, curcumin from turmeric and broccoli extract all helped to bring down PSA levels, and to slow the rate of growth. The evidence for this seems to be growing daily.

My view is that as it is a reasonable price, made from plant not synthetic extracts it can do absolutely no harm but may do a great deal of good.

susieq: Does it have any contraindications...

carolineh: No, I have not come across any. But as with all things if treatment is going on it is always best to run things past the onocologist. According to Robert Thomas it is perfectly safe.

susieq: Thanks Caroline...I will put some links to the research at the end of the transcript. Meanwhile, I realise many men will have hormone therapy, as you mentioned earlier. is there anything nutritionally which can help there...

carolineh: Which brings me the the Brasica or cruciferous types of vegetables as being very beneficial. They have compounds which help the liver in its detoxification of excess hormones.  This in turn helps with hormone control and supports treatment.

They also contain a compound called indole 3 carbinol which helps to block the cell receptor sites preventing hormones getting in to drive the cancer. Again, a great deal of research and good evidence to support this. However they are very high fibre so caution when using them and start slowly after treatment.

With hormone therapy it is dealing with the side effects especially weight gain and hot flushes.

susieq: I was reading on one website that flax seed oil was not good as it can stimulate prostate cancer to grow...: Is this true?

carolineh: Interesting - I have not come across this but would be interested to know more. Flaxseeds and oil are rich in omega 3 but also known as rich in phyto oestrogens which of course is hormone related. But the plant oestrogens have a weak oestrogen called oestrone which does not drive cancer. It is the strong oestrogen oestradoil that we produce that stimulates cancer growth . Prostate cancer is  concerned with testosterone and oestrogen.

susieq: It just shows that there's different schools of thought...I read it on an American website...perhaps they were being overcautious...

carolineh: Yes, but the research into phyto oestrogens has changed over the last few years as more has been discovered, because prior to the new research they were to be avoided. I do know that soya milk and ground flaxseeds help to alleviate hot flushes., I also have a chart in front of me from the Prostate Cancer Research Fund showing the phyto oestrogens including flax should be included in the diet.

The reasons they write for including them is that they reduce cell division and work as anti-androgens. They block testosterone from being converted into the more potent DHT.

susieq: ..I didn't know that..

carolineh: There is so much information about, and I think that reliable sources should be used – for example, come institutions like The Cancer Research Foundation and from oncologists like Robert Thomas who have taken time out to study food and cancer.

I do know that it important not to take individual supplements but to try and get a good mixed diet to give the nutrients naturally. With the exception of Pomi T which as I have said is food form not synthetic.

susieq: How about a very topical subject that has appeared in the media this week...about the brown bits on toast and roast potatoes. It's applicable to all sorts of cancers, but I know how much men like their food:)

carolineh: Yes, Sue, Next month I am going to do a blog on this - A ccrylamide. I did a blog on this in June 2014 so it is not new. Basically, it is recommending that when we cook foods like roast potatoes or toast not to overcook it. It is quite difficult to avoid because all cereals, biscuits, Rivita etc are high in acrylamide.

susieq: (I saw a good balanced review on Cancer Research UK's webisite in their science blog ' It's too soon say browned toast and crispy roast potatoes cause cancer’).

susieq: ..so how would insulin be kept low and steady?

carolineh: You would do this by trying to avoid sweet sugary foods and processed foods and trying to have some form of protein at each meal as protein helps to keep insulin down.

susieq: Still allowed the occasional treat?

carolineh: Of course. We do live in the real world and the odd treat is absolutely fine but not every day. Remember that alcohol  full of sugar and has also been shown to increase hormone levels so this has to be treated with respect. (see our FFT transcript from November, 2016, Alcohol and cancer).

susieq: Finally, we've possibly only touched the surface of all there is to know about prostate cancer and nutrition, and people may have more questions...I'd encourage them to message you, or add their questions to the transcript thread

carolineh: Absolutely, Sue,  I am always glad to help whenever I can.

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Useful references:-

Pomi-T summary presented at ASCO - Pomi-T website.

Health and wellness: Living with Prostate cancer : diet and lifestyle recommendations (PDF link - Prostate Cancer Foundation)

Diet and physical activity for men with prostate cancer (PDF link - Prostate Cancer UK)

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To find out more about 'Food for Thought' and our other online groups, workshops and courses, follow the link here.

Warm wishes

Sue

Cancer Support Specialist - Maggie's Online Centre

 

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