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Find out about eating and prostate cancer, including information about controversial foods and supplements.

Diet and prostate cancer

After a diagnosis of cancer, people often look at changing their diet. Generally, men should follow a healthy diet. This is important for your general health as well as helping you recover from cancer. It can also help you stay at a healthy weight and lower your risk of developing other conditions. 

Apart from a healthy diet, there isn’t any evidence that you should eat or avoid particular foods. Research is looking into how diet can affect cancer.

Treatment for prostate cancer can cause problems with your diet, such as diarrhoea after radiotherapy. And some men find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, they might be over or under weight.

Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian if you have problems.

What is a healthy diet?

A healthy diet is about balancing the different foods and choosing foods that are tasty as well as also nutritious. A healthy diet is

High in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses

  • Aim for at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day, they can be fresh, tinned, frozen or dried.
  • Try to have a range of different colours of fruit and vegetables to give you a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  • Aim to eat starchy foods every day, such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta.
  • Choose wholegrain versions of cereals, bread and pasta where possible.
  • Don’t forget pulses such as beans, lentils and peas, they are a low fat alternative to meat and a good source of protein.

Low in red and processed meat, saturated fat and salt

  • Avoid or reduce processed meats in your diet such as ham, bacon, sausages, salami and pepperoni.
  • Limit the amount of red and processed meat to between 700 to 750 grams raw meat per week, this is the same as 500 grams of cooked meat per week or about 70 grams of cooked meat per day.
  • For example, 2 sausages are about 60 grams of cooked meat.
  • Choose chicken or fish instead.
  • Choose lean meat.
  • Limit saturated fats found in foods such as fatty meat, biscuits, crisps, cheese, cream and butter.
  • Use healthier unsaturated fats like vegetable, olive and sunflower oil and use small amounts.

Low in foods that contain a lot of sugar

  • Limit the amounts of high calorie foods you eat.
  • These include chocolate, cake and fizzy drinks containing sugar.

Drink enough fluids

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day.
  • You can drink water, lower fat milk, tea and coffee and sugar-free drinks.
  • Limit fruit juice or smoothies to 150 mls per day because of the amount of sugar they contain.

To get an idea of how much of each food group you need and examples of the different foods look at the Eatwell Guide.

Eatwell Guide

Remember, for most of us, eating is an enjoyable part of our daily lives so don’t worry about having the occasional treat.

Eating a well balanced healthy diet and can help you

  • recover from treatment
  • make you feel better
  • help you feel more in control
  • keep to a healthy weight

Diet problems

Some treatments can lead to long term changes to your diet, affecting how you eat and what you can eat.

Advice about healthy eating can be different if you are underweight. For example, you can eat full fat products to add calories to your diet. Or some salt may help to make foods more tasty if you have taste changes and your appetite is poor.

Bowel problems – when to seek help

Radiotherapy to the prostate gland can change the way your bowel works. Bowel motions may be more frequent and loose. Changing what you eat can help with this.

Radiotherapy to the prostate gland can affect tissue and other organs in the pelvic area, causing more long term side effects. Speak to your doctor if you
  • need to poo at night
  • need to rush to the loo to have a bowel movement, or you don’t make it in time
  • have bleeding from your back passage (rectum)
  • have other bowel symptoms that interfere with you living an active full life

You may not be able to follow a healthy balanced diet completely if you have these types of changes.  Speak to your doctor or dietitian for help and advice about how to adapt your diet.

Last reviewed: 
23 Sep 2016
  • Eating well when you have cancer.
    Dr Clare Shaw. The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook. 2015

  • Eatwell Guide.
    Public Health England in association with the Welsh government, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland. 2016

  • Lifestyle factors in cancer survivorship.
    J Ligibel and others. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Oct 20, 2012. Vol 30 no. 30, 3697-3704

  • The practical management of the gastrointestinal symptoms of pelvic radiation disease.
    J.N. Andreyev and others. Frontline Gastroenterology, 2015; Vol. 6:1 53-72  

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