The role of nutrition in preventing prostate cancer: a review of the proposed mechanism of action of various dietary substances

Clin Chim Acta. 2003 Apr;330(1-2):57-83. doi: 10.1016/s0009-8981(03)00048-2.


Background: Dietary modifications to prevent prostate cancer (PCa) continue to gain attention as research demonstrates that various dietary nutrients/supplements are related to decreased risk of developing prostate cancer (PCa). Several studies have focused on the antioxidant and nonantioxidant effects of various dietary substances in the prevention of PCa. Research into the mechanisms by which PCa is prevented, or its disease severity is reduced by dietary micronutrients and vitamins continues to enrich our understanding of the mechanisms by which PCa is initiated and progresses.

Methods: We reviewed the literature on dietary nutrients with antioxidant properties that have been shown to have a positive effect in reducing the incidence or preventing the occurrence of PCa including carotenoids (e.g., lycopene), retinoids (e.g., vitamin A), vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, and polyphenols. Other nutrients examined included vitamin D and calcium.

Results: Many dietary micronutrients have demonstrated significant and complex effects on PCa cell proliferation, differentiation, and signaling related to the initiation, progression, and regression of PCa.

Conclusion: Understanding the mechanisms by which various dietary nutrients exert their effects on PCa may make it possible to design effective drugs for treating PCa and to promote better nutrition and lifestyle changes in those at risk for PCa.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Calcium, Dietary / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Selenium / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Soybean Proteins / pharmacology
  • Vitamins / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Dietary Fats
  • Phenols
  • Soybean Proteins
  • Vitamins
  • Selenium