3 ways to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of prostate cancer

3 ways to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of prostate cancer

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is essential to men’s overall well-being and longevity—particularly when preventing prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. Studies link overall weight and excess belly fat to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

“Excess weight parallels the risk of developing prostate cancer during the aging process,” says Andrew Woodward, MS, RD, CSO, an oncology nutritionist at University of Loma Linda Cancer Center. Many people think that weight gain is inevitable as they age, but this is not the case. Instead, it requires that we be more intentional about physical activity and slowly reduce calories to compensate for aging and a stagnant metabolism.”

One way Woodward says that excess body fat increases prostate cancer risk is through its production of cortisol, the stress hormone that increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation is thought to promote the growth of some cancers, he says.

Woodward says insulin problems also help explain the link between belly fat and prostate cancer. Insulin is a growth factor hormone. High levels can promote cancer growth. Excess belly fat can disrupt the body’s ability to use insulin as it should, a condition called insulin resistance. Woodward and other experts suspect that dysregulation of insulin plays a role in prostate cancer, a disease closely related to hormones.

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For Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September, Woodward identifies three major dietary approaches to prioritizing healthy weight and effectively reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Woodward adds that any form of voluntary weight loss must pair good nutrition with physical activity. Myokines, a specialized protein released during exercise, may reduce body fat and boost the immune system, both of which help fight many types of cancer, including prostate cancer.

Replace starches with vegetables

Replacing one serving of starches — pasta, potatoes or rice — with a serving of vegetables — broccoli, cauliflower or others — is a measure Woodward says can significantly reduce the number of calories consumed.

“If you make that starch substitute for vegetables for every meal throughout the day, you reduce your calories while still getting the same volume of food,” he says.

One easy way Woodward suggests making the swap is to explore vegetables made to mimic starches, such as cauliflower rice, zoodles (noodles made with zucchini) or spaghetti squash.

Keep a food diary

Woodward says that regularly recording the types, amounts, and timing of eating can, over time, lead to discoveries about eating habits, portions and patterns of food.

“Sometimes people will review their food diary and identify instances in which they can eat less,” he says.

Woodward says, for example, that writing a food diary might reveal “the relationship of mood to food,” such as eating under stress. Craving the calming and calming effects of carbohydrates in times of emotional turmoil is a common trend. Through a range of biochemical processes, the amino acids from carbohydrates are eventually converted into serotonin, a mood stabilizer.

“Food can become the drug of choice,” he says. “When people have a bad day or their emotions are strong, they may eat inappropriately or in excess, which leads to weight gain.”

Woodward says raising awareness of eating habits is one of the first steps toward identifying room for improvement and working toward healthy weight loss. He says food jotting can be as simple as pencil on paper. Otherwise, online resources such as MyFitnessPal Available and provides a breakdown of calories, protein and macronutrients.

Take advantage of plant-based foods

In general, Woodward recommends men stick to a primarily plant-based diet — whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and other foods grown from the ground — and avoid processed foods, sugar, and fatty foods. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, which are powerful compounds that help fight cancer and reduce the risk of its development.


Read: 4 nutritional tips to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.


Studies show that diets in Western countries lead to a six-fold increased risk of prostate cancer compared to diets in non-Western countries that do not contain animal products such as dairy and meat.

Woodward says every man’s journey toward achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is an individual and personal one.

“It’s not one size fits all,” he says. “A diet that works for one person may not work for another. Everyone needs to look at their complex relationship with food.”

He recommends connecting with a trained nutritionist if you’re looking to adjust your lifestyle to better meet your healthy weight goals. He adds that if you’re having a hard time losing weight, talk to a doctor who specializes in obesity. keep in mind Loma Linda University Center for Health Promotion at 909-558-4594.

Learn more about the prostate cancer services and resources available at Loma Linda University Cancer Center Online Or call 1-800-782-2623.

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