Allium and Prostate Cancer Risk.




European Urology

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.

A study recently published in the journal European Urology, assessed dietary and environmental risks associated with prostate cancer. Through the World Health Organization, prostate cancer mortality rates were gathered for 32 countries. In addition, the researchers obtained dietary information from the Food and Agricultural Organization. After analyzing all the data, the results showed that one of the major contribution factors to prostate cancer risk was a high intake of animal products. Also found to contribute to this risk were alcohol and nonfat milk. A higher intake of onions was found to reduce the risk, followed by other vegetable products. The authors concluded that the allium (found in onions) food family was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.1


1. Grant WB. A Multicountry Ecologic Study of Risk and Risk Reduction Factors for Prostate Cancer Mortality. Europ Urol. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2003.08.018.