Toronto (Oct. 31, 2007) - Men who change dietary habits in their 20s may be able to ward off prostate cancer later in life, according to a study that examined the past 15 years of research into preventing the disease.

This is one of the key findings of the team led by Drs. Neil Fleshner, Head, Division of Urology, University Health Network and Alexandre Zlotta, both Professors of Surgery at the University of Toronto. The study – Prostate Cancer Prevention: Past, Present and Future – is published today in CANCER, the scientific journal of the American Cancer Society. The study also found that current medications such as androgen suppressing 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5ARI) impede the growth of malignancies.

"We have proven now that prostate cancer is preventable on some level," says Dr. Fleshner. "So I am optimistic that for the coming generation, beginning with men in their 20s and 30s, we will have a viable strategy to decrease the chance of developing prostate cancer later in life."

Dr. Fleshner says: "Preventing cancer in the first place is preferable to early detection and treatment. An effective way of preventing disease is always better than searching out cancers and destroying them."

He points out that although patients may not experience any symptoms for decades, prostate cells often become cancerous early in life, so strategies to build awareness and convince men to change dietary habits are vital.

One trial reviewed for the study gave men doses of selenium, lycopene and Vitamin E. Although each group saw their tumors shrink, combining the nutrients provided a more dramatic effect on shrinking tumor size. Dr. Fleshner notes that the nutrients work best in pill form, as they are not found in many common foods. Selenium is only found in Brazil nuts, lycopene is in processed tomatoes and vitamin E is most commonly found in olive oil.

Prostate cancer is the most common male disease and is the third leading cause of death among men in North America. Additional studies examining the benefits of nutrients such as soy and vitamin D are ongoing.

About Princess Margaret Hospital

Princess Margaret Hospital and its research arm, Ontario Cancer Institute, have achieved an international reputation as global leaders in the fight against cancer. Princess Margaret Hospital is a member of the University Health Network, which also includes Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital. All three are research hospitals affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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