Prostate cancer and allium vegetable intake.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Prostate Cancer
Professional Data: Prostate Cancer


Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer, excluding skin cancer, in men in the United States. It is primarily diagnosed in men over 65, although it may begin much earlier. Some cancers of the prostate are very slow growing, while others behave aggressively. Prostate cancer often metastasizes to other tissue, including the brain, lungs, lymph nodes, and bones. Early detection is critical in order to increase the chances for survival. The cancer can be felt upon digital rectal examination (DRE). These examinations are recommended routinely for all men over the age of 50 and high-risk men should commence at age 40.

Little is known about the causes of prostate cancer. Risk factors for prostate cancer include family history and black race. While most prostate cancers are found in the peripheral zone, they may occur anywhere in the prostate. Most pathologists use the Gleason grading system to assess the tumor progression. A score from 2 to 4 indicates a well-differentiated cancer; 5 to 6 correlates with a moderately differentiated cancer; and 7 to 10 indicates a poorly differentiated cancer. The poorer the differentiation of the cancer cells (the higher the score), the worse the prognosis. Well-differentiated tumors grow slowly, whereas poorly differentiated tumors grow rapidly and are associated with a poor prognosis.

Previous studies have illustrated the potential anti-tumor effects of allium vegetables. These vegetables include garlic, onions, chives, leeks, and scallions. Recently published in the journal Cancer, researchers investigated the intake of these vegetables and the risk of prostate cancer. Diet information regarding allium intake was recorded during interviews with 283 men with prostate cancer and 471 healthy men for the control group. Those men who had the highest intake of these vegetables had a lower risk of prostate cancer when compared to those who consumed the lowest amounts. The authors stated that these results were unrelated to body size and other dietary factors.1


1. Hsing AW, et al. Allium Vegetables and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Population-Based Study. Cancer. Nov 2002;94(21):1648-1651.