A diet rich in fiber is known to have several positive effects on the digestive system, in particular by promoting intestinal transit and the activity of the microbial flora of the colon. Other results indicate that certain fiber components may also slow the progression of prostate cancer.
By the age of 40, about a third of men already have microscopic tumors in the prostate and are therefore at high risk of developing cancer of this organ in the decades that follow. This is indeed the case in Western countries: in one out of six men, these microtumors progress to a clinically detectable cancerous stage and these prostate cancers represent the second cause of male cancer death in the West. However, the situation is very different in other regions of the world, particularly in Asia: even if Asian men have a similar incidence of microtumors in the prostate at an early age, they are nevertheless much less affected by cancer of this organ. in getting older. In other words, Asians seem to have the same risk as Westerners of developing this cancer, but certain aspects of their lifestyle prevent their microtumors from developing into mature cancer. Identifying the factors that allow these prostatic microtumors to remain in this “dormant” state could therefore prove to be a promising way to reduce the high incidence of prostate cancer that affects our society.
The ally of the prostate: phytic acid
The nature of the diet is arguably the main difference between the Asian and Western way of life. For example, while the typical Western diet is largely based on the consumption of processed foods that are very low in dietary fiber (refined flours and simple sugars, for example), the plate of Asians is full of foods of plant origin containing a high fiber content (crucifers, whole grains, legumes such as soya, nuts). In addition to their well-known protective effects on the digestive system and the stabilization of blood sugar, many of these sources of fiber also allow a significant intake of inositol hexaphosphate (phytic acid), a molecule that has strong antioxidant activity. Long considered, erroneously, as an “anti-nutrient” due to its ability to bind minerals, it is now known that phytic acid instead exerts several positive health effects and can be metabolized into molecules that possess anti-cancer, especially in the prostate.
Avoid prostate cancer: eat fiber, legumes and whole grains
To determine whether inositol hexaphosphate could effectively slow the progression of prostate cancer, American researchers administered this molecule to model systems, genetically predisposed to developing cancer of this organ. By examining the evolution of cancer using magnetic resonance imaging, they observed that models who received inositol hexaphosphate showed a very strong reduction in cancerous mass, an inhibitory effect which is correlated with an absence of new blood formed by the process of angiogenesis. Further analysis also revealed that the molecule significantly decreases glucose metabolism in cancer cells by preventing the production of GLUT4, a transport protein that allows sugar to enter cells. These observations therefore suggest that a component of dietary fiber prevents prostate cancer cells from obtaining the energy necessary for their growth, thereby keeping them in a latent state that is harmless to the body.
In our modern diet, the daily intake of dietary fiber too often remains below the minimum recommendations issued by Canada’s Food Guide. It is therefore really worth increasing this intake, whether by consuming more plants, particularly legumes, or the multitude of products made from whole grains that are now available in our grocery stores. Fiber is essential for maintaining good health!
Raina K et al. Inositol hexaphosphate inhibits tumor growth, vascularity, and metabolism in TRAMP mice: A multiparametric magnetic resonance study. Cancer Prevention Res. 6: 40-50.