Farm-to-Table Prostate Protection in 4 Simple Steps

Posted January 2, 2017

Last week, I talked about how routine exercise can rocket your odds of surviving prostate cancer (and of escaping early death from any cause). Today, I want to take that conversation one step further. And let you in on one more shockingly simple way you can put “lifestyle medicine” to work on your prostate...

Eat more broccoli. Or any other cruciferous vegetable — like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, collard greens, horseradish, or kale.

Yes, it really is that easy. And let me tell you why...

Crucifers are the original superfoods due to their unique phytochemical profile — featuring a particularly powerful little compound called sulforaphane. For one thing, research shows that sulforaphane stimulates a specific detoxification group of enzymes (called phase II enzymes) in prostate cells. And studies show that this could be a big part of the reason why intake of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables is so strongly associated with decreased prostate cancer risk.1

But a brand new study suggests that this benefit goes way beyond simple prevention. And that crucifers — or at least, therapeutic doses of their active compounds — may have a role in fighting advanced cancer cases, too. (A recommendation that I’ve been championing in my practice for years now.)

This new research shows that sulforaphane can alter gene expression even in metastasized prostate cancer cells, via an enzyme called SUV39H1. And that this process allows for the selective destruction of those malignant cells — potentially slowing disease progression, even in late-stage cancer that has already spread.2

I don’t think I have to explain why findings like these are such a big deal. And the fact that sulfurophane is a safe and effective addition to conventional cancer therapies is just the icing on the cake.

But it gets better. Because sulforaphane isn’t the only disease-fighter that crucifers bring to the table. They’re also rich in a compound called indole-3-carbinol, which your body converts into another compound called diindolylmethane (DIM). And among other things, DIM happens to be a world-class estrogen metabolizer.

In plain language, DIM lowers your levels of circulating estrogen and frees up more testosterone in the process. This makes it critical not just for optimizing hormone levels, but for warding off hormone-dependent cancers — like breast cancer and prostate cancer — as well.

In other words, Brassica vegetables pose a double-threat against disease. So it’s no surprise that, over the past decade, there has been a plethora of research on the practical benefits of these vegetables against prostate cancer.

In the one big study, high consumption of crucifers was associated with a 32% decreased risk of incident prostate cancer.3 In another,  cruciferous vegetable consumption after diagnosis was strongly associated with reduced risk of prostate cancer progression among men initially diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer.4

But it’s not just men who benefit. As part of another recent study, researchers followed 4,886 Chinese breast cancer survivors who were diagnosed with stage 1 to stage 4 breast cancer from 2002 to 2006. The women who consumed the highest intake of cruciferous vegetables per day had a 62% reduced risk of breast cancer mortality. And a 35% reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence, compared to women with the low intake.5

So, there you have it. The more cruciferous vegetables you consume, the longer you live. Once again, “lifestyle medicine” just doesn’t get easier than that.

Just keep in mind that, as the most recent research indicates, you may have to up the ante in order to achieve effective therapeutic intakes of these critical compounds. Which is why good quality supplementation that includes sulforaphane and DIM is so important for men (and women) battling active disease.

I typically recommend two products — BroccoProtect and DIM-Avail — to my prostate cancer patients. But for everyone else, just make it a point to chow down on five to 10 servings of a variety of crucifers a week. And be sure to follow these few tips in the kitchen...

Buy organic whenever possible. Many pesticides used in commercial farming are also powerful, documented xenoestrogens — that is, toxins that disrupt hormone balance by mimicking estrogen in your body. As I mentioned above, this is a problem for both genders — but aging guys are already facing down a natural decline in testosterone. Needless to say, you don’t want to help this process along.

Chop your crucifers ahead of time. Why? Because the process of chopping and chewing breaks up your crucifers’ intact plant cells. This activates an enzyme called myrosinase, which interacts with other cruciferous compounds to create indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane.

The more plant cells you break — and the longer you give myrosinase to do its job — the more anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, estrogen-metabolizing activity you pack into your meal. So next time you’re cooking crucifers, chop them up and let them sit five minutes first.

Cook them properly. Most importantly, make sure your crucifers aren’t overcooked — that reduces the amounts of protective phytochemicals, which you obviously don’t want. So avoid boiling, and especially microwaving.

A light steam or sauté — just enough to make the vegetables slightly tender — ensures maximum nutritional value without the digestive issues that often come with raw vegetables. (And crucifers in particular.) Slather them in butter or olive oil, and you — and your prostate — are good to go.

Stay tuned and stay well,

Dr. Geo

Geo Espinosa, N.D., L.Ac, C.N.S., is a renowned naturopathic doctor recognized as an authority in integrative management of male and urological conditions. Dr. Geo is the founder and director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), a center of excellence in research and integrative treatments for urological conditions.

References:

1. Brooks JD, Paton VG, Vidanes G (2001) Potent induction of phase II enzymes in human prostate cells by sulforaphane. CEBP 10:949–954.

2. Oregon State University. "Beyond prevention: Sulforaphane may find possible use for cancer therapy." ScienceDaily. 12 January 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150112135618.htm.

3. Steinbrecher A, Nimptsch K, Husing A, Rohrmann S, Linseisen J. Dietary glucosinolate intake and risk of prostate cancer in the EPIC-Heidelberg cohort study. Int J Cancer 2009; 125: 2179–86.

4. Richman EL, Carroll PR, Chan JM.Vegetable and fruit intake after diagnosis and risk of prostate cancer progression. Int J Cancer. 2011 Aug

5. http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/news/releases.php?release=2395

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