Prostate Cancer

Over the past twenty years, scientists have been able to link the intake of certain food groups with specific human diseases, including prostate cancer.

Because of advancements in technology the following questions can now be answered.

  1. Which foods have the highest association with development and progression of prostate cancer in men?
  2. What chemical components in those high-risk food groups are attributable to the risks?
  3. How does a specific chemical component from a high-risk food increase the risk of prostate cancer in men?
  4. What dietary modifications could be made that would realistically have the possibility of reducing the risk?

Any organ whose growth and function are under hormonal control will become malignant from excessive hormonal stimulation.

Based on the science of endocrinology, prostate cancer is defined as a hormonal imbalance and usually develops in men in their sixties or older. A time at which, growth and reproductive hormones should be declining. Thus, any dietary components that could stimulate a hormonal pathway could have some effect on risk of developing prostate cancer.

Although, a large variation in the timing of detection exist in one’s life, the fatality from prostate cancer appears to consistently occur later in life. Based on these observations, it is very plausible that prostate cancer more accurately reflects the total accumulation of dietary habits over one’s lifetime. Since, prostate cancer is not inherited nor the result of an infection.

Most countries has a governmental department that is responsible for keeping a historical record of the incidence, types, and rates of mortalities, and a record of all foods consumed and exported. The following information was taken from those historical records.

In 2002, an epidemiological study took place on the incidence and mortality of testicular and prostate cancer and their relation to world dietary practices. This study analyzed data spanning a thirty-year period and covered 5 continents, 42 countries, and 193 populations, and only data that could be confirmed was used. Eight countries were excluded for lack of documentation. The food groups studied were meats, dairy, and plants. Meats included beef, pig, poultry, and goat. Dairy included eggs, butter, and milk from dairy. Plants included cereals, beans, peas, fruits, vegetables, raw tomatoes, coffee, tea, and alcohol.

Among the sixteen food items that were examined, milk had the strongest correlation with the mortality rate of prostate cancer, followed by coffee, cheese, and fat from meats. Cheese was found to have the strongest association with testicular cancer. Raw tomatoes had an insignificant association while cereals had the strongest favorable association.

Milk also contained considerable amounts of female sex hormones such as estrogen, because commercial production of milk is always from pregnant cows. The authors remarked that man is the only mammal on earth that consumes milk after weaning.

As far as I am aware, the suspicion about milk and its association with human disease first surfaced during the 1970s, and again in the 1980s, in two earlier international comparisons of cancer mortality rates with the per capita consumption of foods. In those studies, the national rates of prostate cancer correlated directly in 32 countries with the per capita consumption of milk.

In 1998, analysis of data taken from the Health Professional Follow-Up Study in the United States consisted of the following: 47,781 male health professionals with no history of cancer were followed and studied for a period of 8 years. The study group consisted of only physicians, dentist, pharmacist, and veterinarians, between the ages 40-75 years old. Dietary intake and related diseases were assessed and recorded every two years. Between 1986 and 1994 prostate cancer was identified in 1,262 individuals, based on medical and pathology records.

This study consisted of a group of professionals inclined to be more health conscious, they drank less, smoked less, were more physically active, and took supplements. Eighty-three percent of the milk consumed was from non-fat or low-fat milks. When questioned about food choices the majority responded that dairy was chosen because of its high calcium content, and low-fat choices believing they were healthier because of less fat.

However, contrary to the belief at that time the highest risk for cancer has been found in the individuals who consumed two or more glasses of milk per day compared none, and the risk were actually higher in individuals consuming non-fat milk.

High calcium intake from dairy and supplements has been independently associated with the risk of prostate cancer. The risk association with calcium from supplements, independent of the risk association of calcium from dairy, strongly indicates that calcium is one component in dairy that plays a contributing factor in the risk.

A study in 2007 found that men who consumed 2000 mg/ day of calcium had a five-fold increased risk of developing prostate cancer compared to men who consumed only 500 mg/day. Another study found a high calcium intake was associated with a higher risk of advanced and fatal prostate cancer, compared with men whose long-term calcium intake was below 700 mg/day. In 2008, a study group found an increase in risk of prostate cancer, but only, with the calcium from dairy. There was no association of prostate cancer with calcium from non-dairy foods.

A place to start understanding calcium’s effect on cancer is to first notice that milk contains exceptionally higher levels of both calcium and phosphorus when compared to all other food groups. One cup of whole-milk contains 276 mg of calcium which equals 28% of the daily recommended amount, and 205 mg of phosphorus equal to 29% of its recommended amounts.

Thus, the calcium and phosphorus content from dairy alone will contribute more calcium and phosphorus to a daily diet than any of the other foods groups.

The problem stems from the experiments that have shown high intakes of both calcium and phosphorus are capable of inhibiting the kidney’s secretion of the metabolically active, hormonal form of vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to suppress the hormonal stimulatory effects involved in the growth of cancerous cells, and is an anti-cancer agent.

Thus, calcium and phosphorus are two components in milk that contributes to risk of prostate cancer by down regulating the kidney’s production of vitamin D, thereby interfering with the metabolism of the vitamin D receptor sites found in prostate cells.

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On the issue of fat, non-fat milk contains 20% more calcium and phosphorus than whole-fat milk. Thus, shifting from a whole-fat milk diet to a non-fat milk diet will increase the total intake of both calcium and phosphorus and worsen the condition.

A second problem is specifically attributable to the non-fat nature of a non-fat food, and that is the possibility that a non-fat food may not contain enough fat to dissolve, absorb, or properly metabolize fat-soluble vitamins.

It is a fundamental principal of chemistry that a fat-soluble vitamin, by definition, will require the presence of fat to dissolve and chemically react. In fact, all stages of a fat-soluble vitamin’s absorption and its transport to tissues are linked with absorption and transport of dietary fat. Because of this fundamental chemical property the fortification of a non-fat food, like non-fat milk, with a fat soluble vitamin, like vitamin D, is troubling.

In a 2008 study, 32 healthy resident physicians, separated into two groups, participated in a dietary fat experiment. Both groups consumed the same amount of calories, protein, and vitamin D supplements, but with differing amounts of fat per meal. The first group of 16 consumed a meal consisting of whole milk, white bread, and bologna with a total of 25.6 grams of fat plus 50 International Units of vitamin D3. The second group consumed a non-fat milk, white bread and fruit containing a total of 1.7 grams of fat plus 50 International Units of vitamin D3. After 14 days, blood levels of vitamin D3 in the high fat meal increased by 3.5 nmoles/liter, whereas blood levels of vitamin D3 in the low fat meal decreased by 1.7 nmoles/ liter. Conclusion, fat-rich meals increases absorption and blood levels of vitamin D, and non-fat meals do not.

Thus, the fortification of a non-fat food with a fat soluble vitamin, which requires fat, may give consumers a false sense of security, by leading consumers to believe that their vitamin D daily requirements are being meet from a non-fat food, which has been shown to be very unlikely. It is worthy to note, a non-fat product will contain no essential fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids.

The third component of milk implicated in the risk of prostate cancer is the growth hormones in milk that are transferred to humans through the consumption of milk. Specifically, a family of hormones referred to as the insulin-like growth factors, and the one were interested in is abbreviated as IGF-1.

Milk IGF-1 hormones are identical to the IGF-1 hormones already present in humans since birth. Both milk IGF-1 hormones and human IGF-1 hormones share an identical genetic amino acid sequence, and milk IGF-1 hormones will bind to the same receptor cites on human cell membranes as do the human IGF-1 hormones.

Milk IGF-1 hormones do survive the pasteurization process, are absorbed in the human intestinal tract, and do remain bioactive. Moreover, milk consumption in humans has been found to increase IGF-1 hormone levels in both children and adults by up to 20%.

In one intervention study of well-nourished middle-aged to elderly men, for every serving of milk consumed, blood levels of IGF-1 hormones increased by 5.4 ng/ml (nanograms/ milliliter).

The IGF-1 hormone is found naturally in all humans and is a fundamental requirement for the growth and development from the embryonic stage through puberty. After puberty IGF-1 levels should be decreasing every year at a rate of approximately 2 to 6 ng/ml

However, concentrations outside of the range considered to be normal, for a particular age, has been identified in humans and linked to the development and progression of prostate cancer in animal experiments and in men.

In men, the normal age-related expected decline in IGF-1 hormone levels is exacerbated by the long-term consumption of milk, due to milk’s continued infusion of the IGF-1 hormones.

The first study of interest involves the practice of withholding insulin for 12 hours from insulin-dependent patients. After an insulin infusion blood levels of IGF-1 increased approximately 13%, leading to a conclusion that, in humans, a portion of insulin blood levels can be shuttled to induce the liver’s production and secretion of IGF-1 hormones.

A second study of interest, involved an intervention study of twenty-four, well nourished, eight-year old boys for one week. One group of twelve boys consumed protein only from non-fat milk. The second group of twelve boys consumed protein only from lean meat. Both groups consumed equal amounts of protein but from different sources.

Within one week, the non-fat milk group increased body weight by one pound, insulin levels by 105%, and IGF-1 hormones by 19%. In contrast, there was no increase in body weight, insulin, or IGF-1 hormones in the meat group. Conclusion, high intake of non-fat milk results in a hormonal imbalance that increases blood levels of IGF-1, insulin levels, and body weight in 8-year-old boys.

Some as yet unidentified food components in the protein from milk increases the blood levels of insulin and the IGF-1 hormones that is not found from other protein sources. However one thing is clear; the IGF-1 hormone is a third component in milk that contributes to the prostate cancer risk.

The fourth and fifth risk components in milk can be found in the type of protein that is found only in milk. The protein from cow milk is made up of 80% casein complexes and 20% whey complexes. In contrast, the protein from human milk is made up of approximately 20% casein and 80% whey. Thus, cow milk may contain 4 times more casein than human milk.

This is of concern, since, in humans, dietary intake of casein and whey are treated quite differently, and generate different results. The casein portion of milk generates an increase in the blood levels of IGF-1 hormones. Whereas, the whey portion increases the insulin levels, which could eventually stimulate more IGF-1 production.

In 2008 a 35 gram per day increase in consumption of protein from dairy is associated with a 32% increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer.

The combined effects of the third, fourth, and fifth components from milk results in persistent elevated levels of IGF-1 hormones during a time in a man’s lifecycle in which a growth hormones presence is the most metabolically disruptive.

During adulthood, excessive levels IGF-1 hormones will shift the natural order of life by ordering the body to continue to grow, after the organs have matured and are no longer capable of growth. The over stimulation from growth hormones forces a growth to take place at the cellular level and disrupts the normal life cycle of a cell, resulting in tumor growth and cancer.

The IGF-1 hormone is known as a mitogen hormone with anti-apoptotic properties, and high levels of the IGF-1 has been shown to promote tumor growth.

Interesting support for the above comes from a patent application filed in 2010 requesting protection for the capability to inhibit elevated levels of IGF-1 in humans caused by the casein from milk. The patent identifies ten different organ diseases associated with the consumption of milk.

In this patent application it is claimed, that the protein from milk has been identified as the basic environmental factor promoting a permanent shift on the insulin / IGF-1 axis to higher levels which are inadequate for humans. Milk is regarded as a violation of a physiological principal in mammalian nutrition development during the eons of mammalian evolution.

Gynecologist should advise pregnant women not to consume milk during pregnancy… Oncologist should advise their cancer patients to refrain from milk protein consumption. The author comments that it is most important to evaluate safe limits for the daily consumption of milk proteins.

It appears, based on the author’s use of the language safe-limit that the dairy industry may be getting ready to introduce to the market a casein-free milk or protein modified milk and the industry may have patent protection.

The sixth component in milk associated with the risk of prostate cancer is the presence of the female sex hormone estrogen. Milk samples taken from retail stores contained estrogen compounds as high as 200 ng / cup.

Thus, the milk consumed by the general public will contain large amounts of estrogens that are transferred to humans, and do remain biologically active. Furthermore, it is estimated that dairy accounts for 60-80% of the estrogen consumed in a daily diet.

In 2010 seven men participated in a dietary experiment in which they consumed three cups of milk within 10 minutes. Urine and blood samples were collected before intake and every 15 minutes after intake for two hours. Laboratory test revealed that blood levels of estrogen increased by 26.6 ng/ml within 60 minutes after milk intake. Whereas, the testosterone levels decreased by 1.1 ng / ml within two hours.

Early dietary exposure to estrogen compounds appears to predispose males to prostate cancer in adulthood. Elevated maternal estrogen levels during pregnancy has also been associated with the risk of cancer later in life.

Estrogen compounds induces a hormonal dysregulation in men that results in localized inflammation and DNA damage in the prostate cells. In both in vivo and in vitro laboratory experiments it was only with the addition of estrogen than cancer could be consistently and reliably induced.

Animal studies were the first to show high levels of estrogen in males resulted in permanent changes in the chemical structure of genes known as estrogenization, or estrogen imprinting with life-long genetic alterations in the DNA.

The proponents for milk consumption or pharmaceutical doses of estrogen used for therapy claim that estrogen compounds have very weak mutagenic properties. Nevertheless, research does show that even at low doses estrogen compounds in males are capable of inducing genetic modification in DNA fragments.

Man is not designed to live under a permanent estrogen metabolic stress condition. Persistently high levels of estrogen in men is akin to being chemically castrated by eliminating testicular testosterone production by way of suppressing the luteinizing hormones, which are required for normal male development. Anti-estrogen compounds are currently under investigation for their potential chemotherapy use in prostate cancer patients.

To summarize the estrogen issue, epidemiological, laboratory, and clinical evidence strongly suggest that high levels of female sex hormones in adult males’ plays a causative role in the development and progression of prostate cancer, which is a consequence of excessive hormonal stimulation.

So far science has identified six chemicals embedded in milk that, independent of each other, are capable of increasing the risk of developing prostate cancer. When all are combined together, the effect on the male body must simply be so overwhelming, explaining why so many authors claim prostate cancer is multifactorial and complex. Regardless of which component is the most dominating factor in the risk, one cannot exclude the fact that dairy has been consistently linked with the occurrence of prostate cancer and several mechanism have been explained.

The general public often drinks milk in order to obtain their recommended amounts of calcium, unaware that they can receive calcium through other sources, and the amount of calcium required by humans is easily obtained without dairy or supplements. Make note that the amounts of calcium found in the research studies above that were favorable can easily be obtained from food without having to add dairy to the diet. Dairy simply is not necessary in the human diet, and in fact is harmful.

To summarize all the above, milk is absolutely unsuitable for infants, children, and adults, and should be considered a biohazard for men. Men are consuming too much calcium in their diet, and the consumption of milk in adulthood is akin to receiving hormone therapy throughout a lifetime. No physician would recommend that.

On the bright side, since prostate cancer appears to have a latency period of 20 to 30 years there appears to be ample time for most males to initiate a preventive dietary program with a real possibility of reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

Nutritional advice to reduce the risk of prostate cancer is to first eliminate all dairy. Then, maintain dietary intake of phosphorus at the RDA amount and maintain blood levels of phosphorus at the lowest range of what is considered to be the current acceptable range for phosphorus. Next have dietary intake of vitamin A maintained at the current RDA amount and have blood levels of vitamin A maintained at midway of the acceptable range. Finally, have blood levels of vitamin D tested and consult with your physician.