It’s impossible to completely prevent illness, but you can adopt better habits now if you want to protect your health in the long run. When it comes to prostate cancer, for example, research shows that eating well and exercising can lower your risk. Even if you’ve already been diagnosed, these findings offer hope that there are certain steps you can take to slow the progression of the disease.
New research suggests that exposure to chemicals called PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), which can be found, among other things, in plastic food containers and non-stick cookware, can grow prostate cancer three times faster than cells not exposed to these dangerous chemicals.
The study, published in the journal Nutrients, examined disease progression in mice exposed to PFAS, as well as in mice that were not. Researchers found that the disease developed most rapidly in mice exposed to PFAS fed a high-fat diet. That is, the diet intended to imitate the western diet actually enhanced the harmful effects of these chemicals.
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“More than 99% of the US population already has PFAS in their system,” study author Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, PhD, told Eat This, Not That! in an interview. “However, some people have a higher than normal population due to occupational exposure, live in areas with contaminated water, or consume more fast food or foods contaminated with PFAS. If they also consume more high-fat diets, i.e. western diets, they will be more likely to more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.”
If you want to change your eating habits to avoid this risk, a popular alternative to the typical Western diet is the Mediterranean diet, which, as an added bonus, is associated with a wide variety of health benefits, including boosting cognitive function, reducing your risk of developing depression and even improving erectile performance.
Another option is the “cautious” diet, which includes foods similar to the Mediterranean diet — legumes, vegetables, fruits, poultry, fish and whole grains — and is associated with a longer lifespan and a lower risk of dying from heart disease.
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“There are issues associated with [PFAS] exposures. . . liver damage, high cholesterol, diabetes, various cancers, thyroid disease, asthma, immune system dysfunction, impaired fertility, low birth weight, as well as effects on children’s cognitive and neurobehavioral development,” Robert Gould, MD, associate professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, Eat This, Not That!
Gould noted that the best way to protect individuals from these harmful effects is to change policies, adding that the Green Science Policy Institute makes recommendations on how to personally avoid these chemicals. For starters, Gould recommends staying away from non-stick cookware and takeaways that come in plastic or plastic-lined containers.
For more information on potentially hazardous substances to avoid, go to The 10 Most Toxic Ingredients Lurking in Fast Food.