Each day we wake to new evidence of foods that cause prostate cancer. Men have long been cautioned to focus on healthy eating and exercise, making it even more confusing that regulars on the food pyramid are now under fire for contributing to the development of prostate cancer. Dr. David Samadi, Vice Chairman, Department of Urology, and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, wants to help men qualify the role of specific foods in prostate cancer and fill in the blanks in the rest of prostate cancer story – annual PSA screening and early prostate cancer treatment.
Prostate Cancer Prevention – meat, eggs and other “bad guys”
Recent studies take aim at many foods that are already staples in a man’s diet. One shows consumption of red meat five times per week can more than double your risk of prostate cancer. Another says don’t eat more than two eggs per week or you’re 81% more likely to develop metastatic, or deadly, prostate cancer. Even milk is under scrutiny, as one report suggests African American men who have a calcium-rich diet may be at increased risk. “At first glance, these numbers are staggering. We’ve always been taught these foods are good for us. Stay away from junk food and eat the basics; we learn that as kids in school,” says Dr. Samadi.
For as much research as there is about what not to eat, there is also evidence that increasing our intake of foods such as tomato products, fish, green tea and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage can lower a man’s risk of prostate cancer. Rather than be consumed by what we consume, Dr. Samadi wants men to take a broader approach to eating and preventing prostate cancer. “Moderation is always key,” explains Dr. Samadi, “don’t be frightened by each new report. Just focus on including a wide range of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. And stay active.”
Prostate Cancer Detection – PSA testing still strong
While the PSA test isn’t always seen as the be-all/end-all in prostate cancer detection, Dr. Samadi knows it is currently our best line of defense against the disease. “Annual PSA tests create a roadmap of what’s going on with your prostate,” explains Dr. Samadi, “the numbers we gather each year help us create a PSA velocity which measures any increase from year to year. These numbers are very valuable.”
Some experts believe that prostate cancer is a near certainty for all men; that by age forty 40% of men will have prostate cancer and by age sixty 70% will have developed the disease. Some may only have a latent, benign form of the disease, while others will develop more serious, advanced prostate cancer. “As men age, their prostate gland grows and their PSA levels change, but without regular PSAs the degree of change cannot be seen,” says Dr. Samadi.
Prostate Cancer Treatment – Robotic surgery sure fit
“ Once prostate cancer is detected it cannot be ignored,” says Dr. Samadi. While some opt for a watch-and-wait routine and others choose radiation, he encourages patients to explore robotic prostatectomy surgery. The enhanced support of robotics allows Dr. Samadi to remove a cancerous prostate with as little disruption to delicate nerves as possible. The benefits of robotic surgery include faster recovery and decreased impact on sexual function and urinary continence.
But the win with prostate cancer surgery extends far beyond recovery time, explains Dr. Samadi. “The reality is that prior to surgery our knowledge of a man’s prostate cancer is partial. There are limitations in our ability to accurately stage the disease. Unfortunately, we often find it to be more advanced when we see it firsthand.” For this reason, Dr. Samadi believes the best way to put prostate cancer behind you is to eliminate it through robotic surgery.
“I will always support prostate cancer research,” stresses Dr. Samadi, “however, the message to men needs to be more comprehensive. Healthy lifestyle, early detection, early treatment – that’s how we win the prostate cancer battle,” concludes Dr. Samadi.