Red Vegetables May Protect Men Against Prostate Cancer

capsicumAre you suffering from prostate cancer or at risk of carcinoma of the prostate? Do not despair. After several years of research, scientists have finally found a simple, relatively cheap cure for the disease, and that is a natural compound!

A man has one chance in five of developing prostate cancer in his lifetime. As the name suggests, prostate cancer is the development of cancerous tumor in the prostate, a walnut-sized gland in the male reproductive system. It is the second-most-common form of cancer in men after skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. As per ACS, those most at risk are men over the age of 50, African American men, or those with a family history of prostate cancer.

Levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland, in a man’s bloodstream indicates health status of his prostate. The PSA test is generally used to measure the level of PSA and assess the condition of prostate. High levels of this protein in blood mean that the prostate may be infected, inflamed or enlarged, and subsequently further tests- such as a biopsy- are conducted to ascertain the possibility of prostate cancer.

A new research has now found compelling evidence that lycopene, a substance that gives red color to vegetables and fruits, can help lower PSA levels, thus decreasing a man’s risk for developing prostate cancer.

According to Barbara Quinn, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, a diet full of lycopene-containing vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, apricots, guavas, watermelons and other veggies with red-colored flesh, may prevent men from developing this form of cancer.

This naturally occurring reddish pigment has been associated with reduced levels of the PSA, she said. Numerous studies have been conducted to see how nutrition can affect a man’s risk for prostate cancer, which came out with varied findings. While some says dietary changes can help to prevent and even treat prostate cancer, others say being vegetarian means you are more likely to have better protection against this form of cancer. On the other hand, some studies have shown similar benefit from the use of lycopene supplements, while others have not.

According to the nutritionist, foods high in lycopene are better absorbed by the body when cooked with a little fat, rather than eaten raw. For instance, tomatoes cooked in olive oil provide the body more lycopene than do raw tomatoes.

Besides lycopene that is found naturally in food, we also get a host of other nutrients when we eat red-colored fruits and vegetables. Lycopene works together with other nutrients to fight against the cancer, said Quinn.

Another major nutrient found in red-colored vegetables, that might also help fight prostate cancer, is vitamin D. The National Cancer Institute (NC) has also deemed Vitamin D to be helpful in preventing and fighting prostate cancer.

Some studies have found vitamin D to be effective in lowering the PSA levels in the blood of patients with prostate cancer, while others did not show such benefits. Although one review article has concluded that “vitamin D-based therapies for prostate cancer may soon be medical practice,” but it has still not been determined whether natural Vitamin D and Vitamin D supplements are equally effective in preventing and combating cancer of prostate.