Sperling Prostate Center

Healthy Diet Won’t Kill You but Cancer Might

In our commitment to men’s health and holistic lifestyle, we’ve posted many blogs on diet and nutrition as related to prostate cancer (PCa). This includes food in relation to active surveillance, PCa prevention, the Mediterranean diet, plant-based supplements, and more. We’ve even blogged about the importance of nutritious eating in relation to other cancers.

At the Sperling Prostate Center, our concern for our patients’ wellness extends beyond the prostate. We don’t want our patients’ lives to be threatened by PCa or any other cancer—and we know that that the foods we eat have a profound impact on the wonderful machine we call the body. In fact, a diet that has been shown to reduce prostate cancer is highly likely to help prevent ANY cancer. In addition, of course, such food plans also support general cardiovascular wellness. If you embrace eating more veggies and fruits, and greatly diminish red meat/processed meat consumption, what have you got to lose? Only your life.

Gastric and liver cancer

This blog focuses on two different types of cancers that are killers because they often produce no symptoms until they’re at a stage of aggression that is incurable:

  • Gastric cancers (stomach and esophageal)
  • Liver cancer

At this year’s annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), which was held in New Orleans from Apr. 8-13, two compelling studies were presented.

  1. Gastric cancer – A longitudinal study (median tracking time was 12 years) of 50,045 adults in northeastern Iran found that high consumption of red meat and processed meat raised the chances of stomach/esophageal cancer by 25%. Both of these cancers are silent until symptoms occur, at which point they are difficult to control, and often terminal.
  2. Liver cancer – A very large study (over 400,000 patients records) with an average tracking time of up to 15 years demonstrated that high intake of vegetables generated a third less likelihood of liver cancer. Veggies that were particularly beneficial for combatting liver cancer and chronic liver disease were cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), lettuce, legumes, and carrots.[i]

Food habits can be difficult to change. During childhood, we are fed according to our parents’ ethnicity, economic means, education level, etc. At that time, we start forming habits that we carry into adulthood. Many households rely on inexpensive red meats (hamburger, hot dogs, etc.) for tummy-filling protein. Convenience meals (canned chili, frozen dinners, fast foods) reinforce red/processed meats as the go-to main course. From childhood onward, we may have been planting dangerous carcinogenic molecules in our organs’ cells.

Thankfully, dietary awareness is increasingly permeating our Westernized society. It’s never too late to change what we chew and swallow. More people are turning to plant-based menu plans. Eating more vegetables, grains, and fruits won’t kill you, but chowing down on beef, lamb, bacon, pepperoni, etc. might. What good is a diet that increases inflammation and clogs your blood vessels? Not much.

Is there one diet that will bring universal health? Probably not, given the evolution of humans into different cultures and geographic regions. However, dieticians frequently recommend the Mediterranean diet. If you want to start switching your intake toward better nutrition, but don’t know how to start, consider reading a beginner’s guide to the Mediterranean diet. As with so many things in life, a learning curve may be frustrating at first, but then it’s easy. Once you know how.

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] Dotinga, Randy. “New Cancer Diet Studies Confirm Effects of Veggies and Red Meat.” Medscape, Apr. 19, 2022. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/972354#vp_1


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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