We are what we eat – as the saying goes. It’s widely known that eating a ‘Mediterranean’ diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes and good fats can be a factor in a long and healthy life. But research suggests that some vegetables are more protective than others against various types of cancer.
Leading nutrition researcher Professor Richard Mithen has been studying the effects of different diets and foods on the development of cancer, and discovered that cruciferous vegetables (aka the brassica family), including broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale, are particularly effective at slowing the progress of prostate cancer.
Although earlier research had indicated that eating tomatoes, and especially cooked tomatoes, slightly reduced the risk of prostate cancer, Professor Mithen says the evidence for crucifers is much stronger.
In clinical trials with early-stage cancer patients, he tested the effectiveness and safety of dietary interventions based on eating cruciferous vegetables or their extracts. He asked men with localised prostate cancer on active surveillance to consume broccoli soup weekly, and found that it reduced biomarkers of prostate cancer progression, including PSA levels and urinary symptoms.
When he shared the results of his research, and lots of practical advice, with attendees at the 2023 Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand conference, we knew we had to pass on this potentially life-changing information.