Sperling Prostate Center

Bold Eating for Prostate Cancer Prevention

UPDATE: 10/27/2021
Originally published 8/8/2016

It’s hard to believe the explosion of interest in a Whole Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) diet in the five years since we posted the blog below. In fact, you can expect to see more blogs on this topic here on our website, because the biological science and disease statistics are compelling. There is no doubt that the so-called Western Pattern Diet that puts processed foods and animal products on our plates is simply not good for us. We have only to look at the fact that obesity, diabetes, and chronic disease are reaching epidemic proportions in our country to know that something is terribly wrong.

An abundance of books, research papers, and documentaries support a WFPB diet. You can easily find them. For true lovers of the printed word, I recommend Campbell & Campbell’s 2005 book, The China Study, which documents the findings of The China Project. However, a brief and more engaging story is the transformation experienced by Dr. Benjamin Ha, who personally converted to WFPB eating. As he describes it, “A whole-foods, plant-based diet aims to maximize consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy products and eggs). It encourages lots of vegetables (cooked or raw), fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds, and nuts (in smaller amounts) and is generally low fat.”[i] Dr. Ha shares how he eased into it, then embraced it.

Don’t just take my word for the power of WFPB. Dr. Ha’s personal journey, its results in his life, and the impact WFPB has had on his patients is documented in his short article, “The Power of Plants: Is a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet the Answer to Health, Health Care, and Physician Wellness?” If it’s good enough for doctors, it may be just right for you.


Prostate cancer (PCa) and breast cancer (BCa) are like brother-sister cancers. There are many parallels between them. For instance, both have hormonally driven characteristics, there are about the same number of new cases annually, and similar death rates. On the other hand, lifestyle changes that help BCa patients avoid recurrence have also been shown to reduce the risk of PCa recurrence after treatment.

I have a special interest in preventing recurrence because I offer focal laser ablation (FLA) of prostate cancer tumors. This means that I spare healthy prostate tissue, and let’s face it – there’s always a chance that microscopic PCa cells exist somewhere else in the gland. In most cases, those cells are insignificant and are likely to remain idle without the primary tumor. However, the body’s environment can make a difference in whether those cells flourish or not. And food can make a HUGE difference in the body’s environment.

I recommend taking 10 minutes to read through an online slide presentation (sorry, no audio) put together by Vicky Newman, the Director of Nutrition Services in UC San Diego’s Cancer Prevention Program. It’s called “Fighting Cancer with Your Fork” and you can find it online at http://health.ucsd.edu/patients/events/Documents/WomensWellness/Newman-FightingCancer-Mar2014.pdf. Here are just a few of the main points:

  • Some cuisines such as Mediterranean, Indian and Asian have ingredients that are anti-inflammatory (chronic inflammation of tissues is correlated with the development of cancer). There are also protective compounds in healthy plant foods and in monounsaturated fatty acids found in olives, avocados and nuts.
  • Fruits and vegetables with bold colors and flavors boost the body’s defenses against cancer, and help create conditions that are not hospitable for malignant cells. Think in terms of intense rainbow colors: red (watermelon, red berries, cooked tomatoes), green (dark leafy greens), orange (carrots, papaya, orange melons, oranges), purple (purple-red cabbage, purple grapes, blackberries) etc. – and for bold flavor, onions and garlic.
  • Cruciferous vegetables, which are best if eaten raw or lightly cooked: broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.
  • Aromatic herbs and spices like turmeric, curcumin and black pepper (more ways to get bold flavor).
  • Fiber helps the body push out waste, which pollutes the body if it accumulates.
  • And of course, all the don’ts: refined grains and sugars, low fiber, saturated fats.

There is a wealth of information in Ms. Newman’s slides that it’s impossible to do it justice. I invite you to relax with your table or laptop and take advantage of what she has assembled in one simple place. Even if you have never had cancer, her total program is sure to boost your cardiovascular health, physical energy, and mental clarity. Take bold steps to eat your way to a healthy body.

NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.

[i] Ha B. The Power of Plants: Is a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet the Answer to Health, Health Care, and Physician Wellness? Perm J. 2019; 23: 19-003.


About Dr. Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Prostate Center.

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