There are many ways you can positively influence your health. Lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and smoking or drinking, are influenced by habit, culture, and preferences and are different for each individual. Every day the foods you choose to eat and the amount of physical activity you get can impact your overall health as well as your prostate cancer risk, recovery, and survival.
Diet and exercise recommendations for people with cancer
A good starting point if you are contemplating diet and exercise changes is the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommendations. To prevent cancer and to improve long-term survival in cancer survivors, AICR advises people to:
- Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day, including activities such as walking, dancing, or participating in sports.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods, particularly processed foods high in added sugar, low in fiber, or high in fat.
- Eat a greater variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.
- Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb), and avoid processed meats (such as ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and salami).
- Limit alcoholic drinks, if you consume them at all, to two per day for men (and one per day for women).
- Limit consumption of salty foods.
- Don’t rely on supplements to prevent or protect against cancer.
How diet and exercise impact prostate cancer
Studies suggest that maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise may lower your risk for prostate cancer. It also can help you prepare for and recover after cancer treatment and may help keep your cancer from coming back.
In addition, watching your weight may reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer. According to a study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the risk of dying from prostate cancer is more than double in obese men diagnosed with the disease compared with men of normal weight at the time of diagnosis. And obese men with local or regional disease have nearly four times the risk of their cancer metastasizing, or spreading.
Diet and exercise may help you fight prostate cancer and deal with treatment in several ways.
Inflammation and oxidization
Hormones and specialized proteins found in body fat contribute to inflammation and oxidation, which in turn contribute to the development and progression of prostate cancer. Using diet and exercise to maintain a healthy weight helps limit your body fat and prevent this inflammation and oxidation. In addition, regular exercise and certain foods (especially fruits and vegetables) have natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (Also, eating more fruits and vegetables may help reduce your intake of processed foods.)
Excess body fat promotes insulin resistance, a condition in which the body produces insulin but doesn’t use it effectively—leading the body to produce even more insulin. A hormone that helps control blood sugar, insulin is a potent stimulator of prostate cancer growth. By cutting calories and increasing exercise, you may be able to reduce excess body fat, preventing or overcoming insulin resistance and limiting the amount of insulin your body produces. Also, exercising and building muscle mass help control blood sugar, lowering your need for and production of insulin.
Muscle mass and bone health
Normal aging processes and treatments for prostate cancer may result in loss of muscle mass and loss of bone density, possibly leading to osteoporosis. Increased protein intake and exercise are important to maintaining muscle mass (and to maintaining a healthy body weight). Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake as well as exercise can help keep your bones strong.
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