All cancers are terrible, but the prospect of prostate cancer is especially terrifying to men because it strikes at the very core of maleness.
Prostate cancer often means surgery, which can lead to incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Doctors can also choose to treat prostate cancer with "androgen deprivation" therapy, which chemically neuters a man. And it can certainly lead to death, especially if not caught or treated early enough.
Then there's the apparent inevitability of prostate cancer to add to the terror. The vast majority of men will get it at some point. If they're lucky it'll be the slow-growing, non-symptomatic kind and it'll only be discovered during an autopsy after they died of old age.
Given all that, adding one thing to your diet that may possibly halve your chances of getting prostate cancer is a small price to pay.
Chinese epidemiologists, after scanning ten epidemiological studies, found a stunning correlation between eating carrots and the rate of prostate cancer.
They found that the more often men ate carrots, and the greater the amount of carrots eaten, the less likely they were to get prostate cancer. They even came up with some definitive numbers: For every 10 grams of carrots consumed each day, men reduced their risk of developing prostate cancer by 5%.
That means that if men had at least 50 grams of carrots a day, their chances of developing prostate cancer could be cut in half. The researchers think it has something to do with the large amount of cancer-fighting carotenoids found in carrots.
This is an exciting conclusion, but you have to take care not to jump to conclusions that just aren't there. For instance, eating 100 grams instead of 50 wouldn't necessarily guarantee that you'd never develop prostate cancer. And neither would eating 200 grams a day necessarily give you double protection.
Weird things, unforeseen things, and things contrary to the desired effects sometimes happen when people take some healthful dietary recommendation and run amok with them. Remember, we're only dealing with probabilities here, so keep your carrot consumption in tune with the findings of the epidemiologists and don't go nuts.
The average carrot weighs about 72 grams, and a cup of chopped carrots weighs around 122 grams, so it's not like you have to eat a Bugs Bunny bushel-full of carrots to get to your 50-gram goal. Just one carrot a day should give you some protection against the most frightening of male maladies.
- Xu X et al. Dietary carrot consumption and the risk of prostate cancer. Eur J Nutr. 2014 Dec;53(8):1615-23. PubMed.