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Foods can't cure cancer, but they can lower your chances

broccoli
Posted at 2:49 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 20:30:54-04

Remember when your mom told you to eat your vegetables? Studies back mom up.

Veggies do seem to help keep cancer at bay, though the reasons remain unclear.

Experts say, a good diet can cut your risk of prostate cancer and improve your outcome if you do get it. But what is it about these foods that make them so powerful?

You can see the ads almost everywhere, the vegetable that prolongs life, the one a doctor says never to eat, all loosely based on studies that appear to show a link between better eating and better outcomes in prostate cancer.

"People who do better are thin, eat a Mediterranean diet, don't eat a lot of sugars or simple carbohydrates and don't eat a lot of fat," explained Dr. Preston Milburn, urologist with Baylor, Scott & White Hillcrest.

You'll hear all kinds of anecdotal reasons behind the success of the miracle veggies, from the Lycopene in tomatoes to what makes broccoli and cauliflower clumpy. But bottom line, the exact link remains a mystery.

"They've done study after study trying to figure this out, and unfortunately we've been unable to determine what specifically causes it. It's not the Lycopene, it's not the Selenium, it's not the vitamin E..." said Dr. Milburn.

So, dietitians say save your money. Don't throw it away on fancy supplements which practically come with a mortgage.

"As much as possible, I would say take the money you're spending on supplements and put it to food," explained Kristin Kirkpatrick, registered dietitian at The Cleveland Clinic.

She recommends foods that seem to keep prostate cancer from posing too big a threat, too soon.

Although scientists don't know the exact reason for the link, they insist they see one.

"There are seldom any health repercussions to eating more vegetables, but I think you've got to be careful when people are trying to sell you something because everybody is trying to sell you the next cure, the next preventative thing because they can put a price tag on it," said Dr. Milburn.

So he prescribes moderation in lean, non-red meats, lots of vegetables, fruits but no simple carbs or sugars, and of course plenty of exercise.

That advice sounds like familiar common sense, but think about it. Do you really follow those guidelines? Most of us can find some way of cheating.

Cut one risk factor and you've improved your standing and your chances, a little more, say doctors.