You probably like cheeseburgers as much as the next guy, but in truth, your prostate would prefer you eat a nice salad with low-fat dressing. According to Dr. Neal Barnard, a professor at George Washington University Medical School and founder of the group Physicians for Responsible Medicine, changing your diet can help prevent prostate problems. That's because prostate enlargement is driven by hormones, whose production is influenced by what you eat. Research has shown that daily meat consumption triples the risk of prostate enlargement, and regular milk consumption doubles it.
That's why Asian countries that are beginning to adopt the Western diet reportedly are seeing more and more men with prostate problems. Even worse, the hormones triggered by eating a lot of animal-based foods and consuming a lot of fat also help stimulate the growth of cancer cells.
As Dr. Barnard notes, a man from Sweden, where meat consumption is high, is twice as likely to have cancerous cells in his prostate at age 45 as a man from Hong Kong, where people eat less meat and more vegetables. The Swedish man is also eight times more likely to die of prostate cancer.
There's even evidence that a vegan diet can help slow and control prostate cancer in those who already have it. A 2002 study by physician and nutrition researcher Dr. Dean Ornish found that prostate cancer patients who switched to a low-fat vegan diet actually saw their PSA levels decrease from 6.3 to 5.8 over a three-month period, and none required additional medical treatment. That's why Dr. Barnard concludes that "a diet built from plant foods is a man's best defense against developing prostate cancer" [source: Barnard].