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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE February 18, 2004

New Study Finds Vegetables, Sunshine Help Prevent Prostate Cancer Animal Products Cited as Risk Factors

Men: An Onion a Day May Be Better for You Than an Apple a Day

WASHINGTON – Guys: Ignore what mom used to tell you: an onion a day may be better for your health than an apple a day, according to a new report due to be published in March in European Urology.

The study, a statistical analysis of diets and prostate cancer rates in 32 countries, shows that vegetables, particularly members of the allium family like onions, leeks and garlic, as well as cereals and grains, beans and fruit, help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Also good for you is vitamin D, either from food sources or from moderate exposure to ultraviolet-B rays, a component of sunshine.

Meat and dairy products, on the other hand, may add significantly to a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, says William B. Grant, Ph.D., the study’s author.

“It is alarming,” says Grant. “My analysis clearly shows that in countries where meat and dairy consumption are high, so are prostate cancer death rates. Countries with lower consumption of animal-based products show reduced rates of prostate cancer.”

He notes that prostate cancer death rates are five times higher in the United States and in northern European countries where meat and dairy consumption is high, than in Hong Kong, Iran, Japan and Turkey, where diets rely more heavily on vegetables, grains and cereals, beans and fruits. Among men in the U.S., prostate carcinoma is the second most common cause of death from cancer, claiming more 30,000 lives every year. Prostate cancer kills about 200,000 men annually worldwide.

Grant, who used cancer mortality data from the World Health Organization and dietary information from the Food and Agriculture Organization as a basis for his study, asserts that his findings “put prostate cancer in the same camp as other cancers like breast and colon and rectal cancers for which animal products – fats and proteins – are high-risk factors.”

A retired NASA atmospheric scientist and a member of PCRM, he has spent the last seven years using ecologically based statistical analysis techniques to study links between diet and disease. His work includes studies on Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and cancer, and has been published widely.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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