Can Vegetables Reduce Risk Of Aggressive Prostate Cancer?

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Pile up the spinach and other leafy greens, and while you’re at it, add some carrots and tomatoes, too. A new study from the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) reports that men whose diets are high in leafy green vegetables and vegetables high in carotenoids have a reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Results of this research were released on the heels of another study, from Harvard, in which investigators named cruciferous vegetables capable of reducing prostate cancer progression. Together, these studies support the hypothesis that men who consume a diet high in vegetables can benefit in the fight against prostate cancer.

In the UCSF study, the authors compared the highest to lowest intake of different vegetables, including leafy greens and those with a high content of carotenoids, which are the pigments that color fruits and vegetables. Among the most commonly recognized carotenoids are alpha-carotene and beta-carotene which, along with the estimated 600 other carotenoids, also act as antioxidants.

A total of 982 men (470 aggressive prostate cancer cases, 512 controls) were enrolled in the study. Eating the most leafy greens was associated with a 34 percent reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer, while enjoying lots of vegetables rich in carotenoids was associated with a 29 percent reduced risk. The authors also looked at foods high on the glycemic index (e.g., white rice, white bread, baked goods) and reported that they were associated with a 36 percent increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

For men, the take home message from this study and the Harvard research is to eat your vegetables, and lots of them, to help in the battle against aggressive prostate cancer and prostate cancer progression.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.


Hardin J et al. Impact of consumption of vegetable, fruit, grain, and high glycemic index foods on aggressive prostate cancer risk. Nutrition and Cancer 2011 Aug-Sept; 63(6): 860-72

Richman EL et al. Vegetable and fruit intake after diagnosis and risk of prostate cancer progression. International Journal of Cancer 2012 Jul 1; 131(1): 201-10;

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