Nature Reviews Urology 7, 442-453 (August 2010) | doi:10.1038/nrurol.2010.102

Subject Categories: Prostate cancer | Risk factors and epidemiology

Diet and prostate cancer: mechanisms of action and implications for chemoprevention

Vasundara Venkateswaran & Laurence H. Klotz  About the authors


As one of the most prevalent cancers, prostate cancer has enormous public health significance and prevention strategies would attenuate its economic, emotional, physical and social impact. Until recently, however, we have had only modest information about risk factors for this disease, apart from the well-established characteristics of age, family history and place of birth. The large worldwide variation in the incidence of prostate cancer and the increased risk in migrants who move from low-risk to high-risk countries provide strong support for modifiable environmental factors, particularly diet, in its etiology. Thus, dietary agents have gained considerable attention as chemopreventive agents against prostate cancer. Dietary fat, red and processed meat, vitamin E, selenium, tomatoes, cruciforms and green tea have all been linked with the development and aggressiveness of prostate cancer, through a range of molecular mechanisms. The direction of future clinical trials lies in clarifying the effects of these agents and exploring the biological mechanisms responsible for the prevention of prostate cancer. However, owing to the short time period between diagnosis and treatment, conventional dietary intervention techniques are not always realistic. Until large randomized trials confirm the benefit of chemopreventive and dietary modifications, patients can be advised to pursue a diet and lifestyle that enhances overall health.

Author affiliations

V. Venkateswaran & L. H. Klotz
Division of Urology, MG 408, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada (V. Venkateswaran, L. H. Klotz).

Correspondence to: L. H. Klotz

Published online 20 July 2010