Aug 142013

This is for all of the amazing men out there in men’s sheds across Australia.

One of the big health issues facing men in Australia is prostate cancer. This is a cancer of a small walnut shaped organ in our lower abdomen’s.

Men suffer from prostate cancer at a higher incidence than women suffer from breast cancer although, this is very rarely spoken of in little notice is taken of it.  It is, in fact, the most common cancer.

One of the most important thing is to understand is that there are essentially five groups of men in our community and one of those groups suffers from very low incidence of prostate cancer. At the other end there is a group of men who have very high incidence of prostate cancer. So today I am going to run through these five groups and explain some of what makes them different.

The first group is a ordinary man who likes his meat and often eats it either barbecued, seared, or is processed meat in the form of bacon, salami or another style of processed meat. The major problem for this group is that both processing and barbecuing causes carcinogens, that is chemicals that can cause cancer, to be present in the meat. In processed meat there are very high levels of nitrites and sulphites present. These chemicals that are used as preservatives in modern processing. They have been linked to high levels of prostate cancer. The other issue is meats that have been seared or barbecued. When meat is cooked or charred at high temperatures over an open flame, a reaction occurs that causes the formation of two chemicals: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These chemicals have been linked to aggressive cancers throughout the body not just in the prostate.
Unfortunately, these men constitute the highest incidence of cancer amongst men including prostate. However, they also have higher levels of throat, stomach, small intestine, and colon cancers.

The next group of men to look at those of us who eat meat on a regular basis but do not tend to eat meat that is either processed or charred. These are those of us who tend to eat things like a lamb shank, meat in stews, or casseroles. This group of men still have a relatively high incidence of prostate cancer but much lower than the first group.

The third group to look at is men who do not eat red meat or who only eat things like steamed fish. These men tend to have the low levels of prostate cancer.

The fourth and fifth groups are men who are vegetarian and vegan. The difference between the two is that a vegan will not eat any animal product at all and are vegetarian may eat things like dairy products and eggs. Both of these groups have quite low incidence of cancer including prostate cancer with vegan’s especially raw vegan’s having the lowest incidence of cancer in many studies.

While I am not a vegan the studies I have read would seem to support the argument that eating a diet that includes a high intake of plant materials especially raw plant materials such as salads and non-starchy vegetables such as beetroot, carrot, cabbage et cetera are of great benefit to those of us who would seek to minimise our risk of prostate cancer.

Personally I will probably never become a vegan but having read the research material to write this paper I am considering moving towards a diet that includes only things like steamed fish, curries, casseroles, stews and other forms of non-charred meat. I am also not sure that I will ever be able to completely abstained from bacon but would certainly be seeking in future to minimise my intake of all processed meats.