(WUSA)-- Columbia University urologist Dr. Phillipa Cheetham says the United States has the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world, and one of the main reasons is the American love affair with red meat.
Dr. Cheetham says, "The Western diet is high in red meats, saturated fats, and processed and fried foods. All of these things contribute to prostate cancer."
Dr. Cheetham says when meat is charred on the grill, or cured for cold-cuts, more carcinogens are added. She tells all her prostate cancer patients to eliminate red meat from their diets.
"These carcinogenic chemical can actually convert normal cells to prostate cancer cells," says Dr. Cheetham.
She says its never too early, or too late for a man to change his diet- even if he's already been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
She tells patients to add dark green, crufierous vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach and brussel sprouts. Lycopene-rich tomatoes are also part of the diet she recommends, as well as antioxidant rich green tea.
Dark purple fruits like pomegranates contain more potent anti-oxidants, as do red wines such as Pinot Noir.
"So drinking a glass of red wine two to three times a week can really help reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer," says Dr. Cheetham.
Dr. Cheetham, who co-founded the Society of Integrative Urology, is also a big believer in supplements that boost the immune system, to help the body fight malignant cells on its own. She tests all patients' vitamin D levels in the blood, because a deficiency is linked to more aggressive cancers, and can be corrected easily with inexpensive gel capsules.
Dr. Cheetham explains how a healthy immune system reduces cancer risk: "There are cells in the blood that circulate that look for damaged, infected, inflamed cells, cancer cells. And your immune system, when its working well, should mop up these cells and destroy them."
Vitamin D deficiency is even more of a problem in dark skinned black men, and Dr. Cheetham notes prostate cancer risk is much higher in African Americans. They are 60% more likely to develop this malignancy than Caucasian men, and 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease.
Another important risk factor is having a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dr. Cheetham says these men need to be more proactive about PSA screening, starting at age 40 rather than age 50.
Prostate Cancer Prevention Checklist:
Immunotherapy Supplements (Mushroom Extract AHCC)
Reduction of Red Meat in Diet