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Global Network

Prostate Cancer

Learn About Prostate Cancer


Though many risk factors for prostate cancer lie outside of our control (see below), there is strong and consistent evidence that diet is one way men can reduce their risk. AICR estimates that approximately 1 in 10 cases of prostate cancer (eleven percent) are related to diet.

This means that nearly 26,250 cases every year could be prevented through eating more healthfully.


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 Age: The older you are, the greater your risk. The overwhelming majority (97%) of prostate cancers occur in men 50 and older.

Ethnicity: Prostate cancer is most common in North America and northern Europe. African-American men have the highest prostate cancer incidence rates in the world.

Family History: The National Cancer Institute estimates that between 5 and 10 percent of prostate cancers are the result of a strong genetic predisposition.

Diet: AICR’s expert report concluded that diets high in tomatoes, watermelon and other lycopene-containing foods are protective against prostate cancer, as are diets high in selenium.

Diets high in calcium are associated with increased risk for prostate cancer.


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men (apart from skin cancer). Twenty-eight percent of the cancers diagnosed in men each year are prostate cancers.

Nearly 239,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.S. every year. The disease claims almost 30,000 U.S. lives annually.


Focus on the Risk Factors You Control

tomatoes and watermellons

A Menu for
Prostate Cancer Prevention

New American Plate

Learn about AICR’s simple, visual, award-winning approach to meal planning that helps you lower your cancer risk – and your weight.

Foods That Fight Cancer™

AICR’s new web resource keeps you up-to-date about the latest research on foods that belong at the center of your New American Plate.

Today, over 90 percent of prostate cancers are diagnosed at an early stage. Earlier detection, combined with more effective treatment, has made prostate cancer more survivable than ever.

Two screenings for prostate cancer are the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal examination (DRE).

These tests can diagnose both the aggressive, advanced stages of prostate cancer and cancer that is so slow-growing it may not require  treatment. Some experts advise against routine screenings to avoid “overtreatment” of cancers that are not life-threatening.

Be sure to discuss your screening options with your doctor.

The Factors You Control

A healthy overall lifestyle (which includes a plant-based diet, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight) lowers risk for many cancers and other chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

When it comes to prostate cancer specifically, ongoing research suggests that diets rich in foods containing lycopene – tomatoes and tomato products (paste, sauce, juice) as well as red or pink grapefruit, watermelon and guava – are linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

Diets high in selenium have also been associated with lower risk for prostate cancer. (Note, however, that the largest-ever prostate cancer prevention trial (SELECT), found that supplements of selenium did not reduce prostate cancer risk. AICR recommends relying on the whole diet, not dietary supplements, for cancer prevention.)

Diets high in calcium have been associated with increased risk for prostate cancer. (For bone health, health experts recommend that men get 1000 mg/day of calcium until age 70, and 1200 mg/day thereafter). Avoid taking supplements that will give you more calcium than you need.

Previous:« Facts

What the Research Shows

Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Cancer Of The Prostate*

Strength of Current Evidence

Decreases Risk

Increases Risk

PROBABLE Effect on Risk

Foods containing lycopene
Foods containing selenium**

Diets high in calcium***
NO SUBSTANTIAL Effect on Risk: Beta-carotene

*Source: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective

**The expert report examined studies involving both foods containing selenium and selenium supplements.

***The expert report examined studies involving foods that naturally contain calcium and those fortified with calcium. Note, however, that increased prostate cancer risk occurred at high calcium intakes (1,500 mg/day or more). Men in the U.S. have an average intake of 800 to 1150 mg of dietary calcium per day. AICR's expert report also found that diets high in calcium decrease risk for colorectal cancer.

What’s the Link?

Diets High in Lycopene Decrease Prostate Cancer Risk

  • Lycopene is a carotenoid with strong antioxidant activity. Research suggests it reduces LDL cholesterol, improves immune function and reduces inflammation.
  • Lycopene is best absorbed from tomatoes after they are cooked or pureed.

Diets High in Selenium Decrease Prostate Cancer Risk

  • Selenium is involved in several potentially protective biological processes and exhibits anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties.
  • Selenium is involved with testosterone production, which regulates prostate growth.

Diets High in Calcium Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

  • In lab studies, high calcium intake increases cell proliferation in the prostate.

Beta-carotene Has No Substantial Effect on Prostate Cancer Risk

  • The AICR/WCRF expert report concluded there is strong and consistent evidence that beta-carotene in food or in supplement form is neither harmful nor beneficial in regard to prostate cancer.
AICR-Supported Studies
Grant Number Title
208739: Dietary folate interventions in a mouse model of castration recurrent prostate cancer.
10A050: Anticancer Effects of Mixed Disulfide Conjugates of Allium Thiosulfinates and Cysteine/glutathione
MG10A001: Assessing the Specificity of Walnut Feeding Effects on TRAMP Tumor Growth
10A074: Vitamin-D Regulates Inflammatory MicroRNAs in Prostate Cells
09A107: The Alpha Tocopherol Transfer Protein, Vitamin E and Prostate Cancer
09A135: Dietary Factors in Relation to Prostate Cancer Risk and Survival
09A055: The Effect of a Lycopene-rich Tomato Extract on Gene Expression in Benign Prostate Tissue: Results from a Randomized Trial in Men with HGPIN
09A073: Walnut Consumption: Inhibition of Human Prostate Cancer Cell Growth
09A023: Therapeutic Synergy Between Piperine and Docetaxel Against Prostate Cancer
07B087: Role of the Bad Protein in Mediating Tumor Suppressive Effect of Omega-3 PUFAs
07A116: Inhibition of Prostate Carcinogenesis by Flavokawain B, a Novel Chalcone from the Kava Plant
07A052: Dietary Folate Manipulation to Prevent Prostate Cancer Progression
07A103: Dietary Folate Manipulation: Impact on Prostate Tumor Biology, Genetics and Epigenetics
06A021: Dietary Obesity and Prostate Cancer Development in TRAMP Mice
06A114: Dual Effects of Soy to Treat Prostate Cancer: Inhibition of Prostaglandins and Enhancement of the Anti-proliferative Activity of Vitamin D
06A150: Genetics and Diet in Prostate Cancer Initiation and Progression
06A015: Androgen Receptor Expression Regulation by Omega-3 fatty Acids in Prostate Cancer
05A006: Molecular Mechanisms Involved in the Suppressive Effects of Garlic Derivatives on Cell Growth and Motility in Prostate Cancer Cells
05B026: Prostate Cancer Prevention by Phytochemicals in White Button Mushrooms
05A072: Anthropometrics and Exercise Throughout Life and Prostate Cancer
05A033: Growth Inhibition of Prostate Cancer Cell by Selenomethionine Through MAP Kinase Signaling
05B087: Lunasin, a Novel Cancer Preventive Seed Peptide
05A021: Lycopene, Vitamin E, Selenium and Prostate Cancer
05A131: Calcium and Vitamin D Interactions in Prostate Carcinogenesis
04B109: Effects of Brassica or Indole-3-carbinol in Prostectomy Patients with PSA Recurrence
03B108: Mechanism of Interaction Between Soy and Radiation for Prostate Cancer
03A137: Chronobiological Principles to Maximize Efficacy of Alternative Dietary Therapeutics
03A083: Determination of Cranberry Constituents with Antiproliferative Activity Against Human Tumor Cell Lines
03B115: Lipid Modulation of Jak2-Stat5 Signal Transduction Pathway in Prostate Cancer
03B099: Vitamin A Deficiency and Prostate Cancer
02A072: Iron Increases Breast and Prostate Cancer Cells Invasion
02A118: Selenium and Prostate Cancer
01B013: Effect of Soy Isoflavone Consumption on Plasma Hormones Related to Prostate Cancer Risk in Healthy Young Men
01A015: Effect of Phenolic Antioxidants on Cell Cycle Regulatory Genes
01A067: Determination of Cranberry Constituents with Antiproliferative Activity Against Human Tumor Cell Lines
01A004: Garlic Constituents in Treatment of Human Prostate Cancer
01B022: Control of Prostate Carcinogenesis by PC-SPES
01B061: Tomatoes, Broccoli, and Prevention of Prostate Cancer
01B039: Antitumor Effects of Dietary Isothiocyanates on Prostate Cancer
00B017: Prostate Cancer Prevention by Grape Seed Extract
00A030: Prostate Cancer and Green Tea
00A023: Genistein: Prevention of advanced prostate cancer in transgenic mice
00B103: Molecular Analysis of Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) Signaling Events in Prostate Cancer Cells
00B022: Zinc and Prolactin Regulation of Prostsate Cancer Cell Energy Metabolism
00A035: Impact of Dietary Intervention in Men with Prostate Cancer
00A011: Vitamin D Treatment of Prostate Cancer: The Role of IGFBP-3
99B022: Selenium and Prostate Cancer
99A018: Prostate Cancer Progression in a Transgenic Mouse Model: Dietary Intervention
99A109: Effects of Dietary Isoflavonoids on Prostate Cancer Proliferation and Tumorigenesis
99B030: Specific Role of Genistein in Reducing Hormonal and Proliferative Risk Parameters in Prostate Cancer
98A007: Bioflavonoids and Prostatic Cancer Metastasis in Transgenic Mice
98B068: Soy Isoflavone As A Radiation Sensitizer in Prostate Cancer
98A118: Mechanism of Vitamin D-Mediated Antiproliferative Effects in Prostate Cancer Cells
98B013: The Influence of Vitamin E on the Growth of Human Prostate Cancer
97A154: The Effects of Dietary Fats on the Progression of Prostate Cancer
97A072: Role of Dietary Fats and Estrogens in the Etiology of Prostate Cancer: A Rat Model
97A082: A Clinical Trial of Vitamin D Treatment of Prostate Cancer
97B048: Evaluation of the In Vivo Antitumor and Chemosensitizing Activities of Vitamin C and K3 Combinations
96B015: Prostate Cancer Chemoprevention
95B099: Efficacy of Vitamin D in Advanced Prostate Cancer: a Pilot Study
95A32: Do Components of a Chinese Diet (Genistein, Green Tea, and Phytate) Inhibit Prostate Cancer?
94B04: Vitamin D and Prostate Cancer
94B95: Dietary Fatty Acids, Isoflavones and Prostate Cancer
92B29: Vitamin D and Prostate Cancer
87A27: Prevention of Malignant Phenotype Generation by Diet-administered Retinoids
86A77: Obesity-Related Risk Factors in Prostate Cancer


Looking Forward

Today your chances of recovering from prostate cancer and returning to a full and active life have never been better.

Over the past 25 years, the 5-year survival rate for all stages of prostate cancer combined has increased from 68% to nearly 100%. 

Throughout your treatment you will face many everyday questions. And because there is evidence that obesity increases prostate cancer mortality, maintaining a healthy weight once treatment is over will be more important than ever.

AICR can help.

AICR’s CancerResource: A Program for Those Living with Cancer is a free kit of information specifically for the newly diagnosed cancer patient.

See below for selections from AICR's CancerResource. Or read the complete CancerResource flipping book online.




More AICR Materials for Prostate Cancer Survivors

In-depth brochures on cancer survivorship; read online or order a free copy.

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Join the Fight Against Prostate Cancer

Join the fight against cancer

Nearly 238,600 new cases of prostate cancer occur annually but few Americans realize that making simple, everyday changes to what we eat and how much we move could prevent approximately 1 out of every 10 cases of prostate cancer. Your support for AICR's cancer research, survivorship, and education programs will help us get one step closer to preventing prostate cancer and saving lives.

Donate Today!

Your gift will help fund emerging research on prostate cancer and other cancers and improve the quality of health for prostate cancer patients and survivors.

Honor Someone Facing Prostate Cancer

Make a gift in honor of a loved one. Your gift will help fund research and survivorship programs for those with prostate cancer and other cancers for years to come.

Give in Memory of a Loved One

Make a gift in memory of a loved one. Your gift will help fund research and survivorship programs for those with prostate cancer and other cancers for years to come.






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Last Updated: 06/11/2013
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