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Nutritionist recommends plant-based diet to beat, treat prostate cancer

Published:Wednesday | September 21, 2022 | 12:05 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Nutritionist Dr Rosalee Brown, who operates in the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), is suggesting that men consider adopting a plant-based diet, especially for those who are genetically predisposed, to reduce the likelihood of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Brown’s advocacy for men to consume more locally produced natural foods came during Sunday’s online panel discussion, which formed a part of the observance of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, organised in collaboration with the Misty Blue Cancer Care Foundation.

“It is great to hear of the advancements in surgeries and diagnosis of prostate cancer, but we have heard that persons with a family history are more prone to getting prostate cancer. What I want to say to persons, who are aware that prostate cancer is very high in your family, is to start looking at your lifestyle, and a big part of lifestyle is what you eat,” said Brown.

“When we speak about ‘whole food, plant based,’ it is all around Jamaica. You can get your protein from peas, beans, and nuts, so you want to reduce animal foods, and milk has living organisms which can help to increase a whole lot of inflammations, especially in cancers. But you can get that protein from other sources, like your green vegetables, which are very high in calcium,” she continued.

“I know in Jamaica, we love to fry our food, such as fried plantain, but we can find other ways to prepare them,” added Brown

Brown’s recommendation for Jamaican men to adopt a healthier, plant-based diet was supported by Dr Lincoln Cox, a general surgeon at the Savanna-la-Mar Public Hospital in Westmoreland, who noted that the typical Jamaican diet tends to be high in various types of unhealthy animal fats.

“A lot of the Jamaican diet tends to have pork, jerked items, and so on, to include high-end fat, and we have a lot of fast-food restaurants around with lots of saturated fats and trans fats that we tend to take a lot of. We just want to encourage people to have a healthy diet and to exercise,” said Cox.

The WRHA recently revealed that 250 prostate cancer cases are among the 590 backlogged elective surgery cases in western Jamaica. Those cases are among 6,000 elective surgeries islandwide, which had to be delayed from as far back as March 2020, due to the onset and priority of COVID-19 cases.

According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Jamaica recorded 1,561 new cases of prostate cancer in 2020, with this form of cancer being identified as the most prevalent in the country and the leading local cause of cancer-related death in men.

It is estimated that four out of every five Jamaican men with prostate cancer are diagnosed at age 65 or older, while 304 out of every 100,000 adult males in Jamaica will be diagnosed with the disease.

Dorothy Satchwell, the founder and chairwoman of the Misty Blue Cancer Care Foundation, noted that public education about prostate cancer screening, including the digital-rectal examination, has improved public awareness about the disease since her foundation began operating in Westmoreland in 2015.

“Public education is making a difference, and when we started, it was the older men who were coming in for screening. People will tell you now, all the taxi drivers are turning up, and you do not have to ask them; they will tell you point blank, ‘is the other thing I come for, you know,’” said Satchwell.