Certain foods can cause prostate problems in men, for example, the consumption of red meat has been linked to prostate cancer. Find out how red meat can damage the prostate and what other foods to avoid to reduce your risk of prostate problems.

Prostate problems are common among men who are aged 50 and above. These problems affect the prostate whose main function is to secrete a slightly acidic, milky white fluid that constitutes about 50 – 75% of the volume of the semen together with sperm cells and seminal vesicle fluid.

The fluid secreted from the prostate contains proteins like PSA (protein-specific antigen) and a high concentration of zinc. Besides secreting this fluid, the prostate also has some smooth muscles that help to expel semen during ejaculation.

Types of prostate problems:

  • Acute prostatitis
  • Chronic prostatitis
  • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
  • Prostate cancer

Of all the types of prostate problem, BPH is the most common and it involves the enlargement of the prostate as the growth of prostate cells gets out of control. Over a period of time, an enlarged prostate may block the urethra and make urination difficult.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, and most often requires surgery.

Acute and chronic prostatitis refers to the inflammation of prostate tissues. This inflammation is usually caused by a bacterial infection of the prostate. Therefore, antibiotics can be used to treat the infection and relieve the symptoms of these two prostate diseases.

The most common symptoms of prostate problems include painful or burning urination, frequent urge to urinate, blood in urine or semen, inability to urinate and painful ejaculation.

Studies have shown that certain foods can increase the risk of these prostate problems. The foods known to cause prostate problems usually increase the level of cholesterol and cause chronic inflammation.

The foods discussed below have been strongly linked to prostate problems.Red Meat

The link between the consumption of red meat and cancer of the prostate has been confirmed by a number of dietary and epidemiological studies. One example of these studies is a 1999 study published by the journal, Cancer. The researchers investigated the risk factors for prostate carcinoma in Taiwan.

The study recruited 90 patients from 2 military hospitals who had been diagnosed with prostate carcinoma between August 1995 and July 1996. Also recruited were 180 controls who were non-cancer patients treated in these hospitals outside the cardiology and urology units.

The study participants were interviewed in person to get information regarding lifestyle, diet, height and weight.

The results of the study showed that the consumption of red meat was moderately higher among those with prostate cancer than the controls. In addition, the results also showed that the prostate carcinoma patients were less likely to cook vegetable with red meat.

The study concluded that the consumption of red meat was associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer.

Cooking Temperature and Risk of Prostate Cancer

A 2012 study publsihed in the journal, Carcinogenesis, established that the temperature at which red meat is cooked may be responsible for the increase in prostate cancer risks.

By comparing processed and unprocessed red meat and the temperature at which they were cooked, the researchers showed that high temperatures increased expression of carcinogen metabolism genes in red meat and poultry.

This means that high cooking temperatures generate chemical carcinogens in red meat and the accumulations of these carcinogen is responsible for the increased risk of prostate cancer.

Heme, Red Meat and Prostate Health

Evidently, there are components of red meat that makes it harmful to the prostate. One theory, identifies cytochromes as the damaging component of this kind of meat.

Red meat contains high levels of cytochromes. These cytochromes are membrane-bound hemeproteins that carry out electron transport in the body.

Myoglobin and hemoglobin are examples of membrane-bound hemeproteins and are important in the storing and transport of oxygen in mammals. Hemeproteins contain heme, a highly-conjugated system surrounding a metal (iron) ion that interconverts between its reduced and oxidized states.

When heme protein is ingested in the body, the iron atom in the heme group binds with oxygen, nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide. Which molecule is bound to the iron largely determines the benefits of heme because once they are bound to the heme prosthetic group, these molecules are able to modify the functions of hemeproteins.

Free heme groups usually catalyze oxidative reactions. These free heme-catalyzed oxidations are harmful and can destroy prostate epithelial cells. The oxidative destruction of prostate cells can cause inflammation, prostate enlargement and even prostate cancer.

Therefore, reducing the amount of red meat intake will limit the level of free heme available to drive oxidative damage in the tissues of the body and so reduce the risk of having prostate problems.


Butter is a dairy product made by churning fermented cream or milk. It is mostly made from cow milk, but can also be made from the milks of other mammals including goats, sheep, buffalos and yaks.

Butters have high levels of saturated fats and contain cholesterol. The saturated fatty acids that are present in butter include lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acids.

Cholesterol is naturally manufactured by all humans and animals as they are needed to build and maintain membranes. It is also an important precursor for hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

Since the body can manufacture all the cholesterol it needs, extra cholesterol from the diet can build up in the body and cause harm. Therefore, due to butter’s high cholesterol content, its consumption can produce high body levels of cholesterol and cause cardiovascular complications such as atheroma.

Atheroma occurs when there is swelling in the walls of the artery which is normally caused by the buildup of cholesterol and fatty acids in the blood vessels. This blocks the flow of blood to and from the heart and may lead to various heart diseases and an increased cancer risk.

Researchers have also linked serum myristic and palmitic acids to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

In a study published in 1999 by the Journal of Urology, the association between diet and benign prostatic hyperplasia was investigated in a case-control study in a group of 184 BPH patients and 246 controls without any clinical indication of prostate disease.

The results showed that an increased consumption of butter and margarine was directly linked to an increased risk of BPH while the consumption of fruits reduced the risks of BPH.

Trans Fats

A large amount of trans fats consumed today is produced by the processed food industry by partially hydrogenating unsaturated plant fats (vegetable oils). This process involves the conversion of vegetable oils to semisolid fats that can be used for margarines, cooking and in industrial manufacturing.

These partially hydrogenated fats have replaced solid fats and liquid oils in fast foods, fried foods, snack foods and baked goods industry.

The consumption of trans fats can increase the risk of inflammation of the blood vessels and may also lead to atherosclerosis, which is normally caused by the buildup of cholesterol along the walls of the blood vessels of the heart.

Trans Fats, Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Several studies have established the association between trans fats and prostate cancer.

In 2005, a study published in the journal, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention showed that serum trans fats are linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Using data from B-carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial, this nested case-control study explored the relationships between prostate cancer and serum phospholipid trans-fatty acids in 272 prostate cancer patients and 426 control men.

The results found that serum phospholipid C18 trans-fatty acids were associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

There is evidence that chronic inflammation plays a role in the progression of prostate cancer. Therefore the link between trans fats and inflammation may also explain their associations with prostate cancer risk.

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates are considered unhealthy carbohydrates. They are produced from plant sources of carbohydrates by removing the fiber, nutrients and other natural components except the highly digestible carbohydrate.

Refined carbohydrates are mostly simple carbohydrates. They are easily digestible and can rapidly increase blood sugar levels.

Examples of refined carbohydrate include sweetened fruit juice, soft drinks, sweetened canned fruit, bread, bagels, muffins, cakes, cookies, pie, candy bars, cupcakes and donuts.

The consumption of refined carbohydrates increases the level of insulin in the body as the body responds to the spike in sugar levels. Excessive insulin in the body leads to increased production of an insulin-like growth factor (IGF) which is known to increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Study Linking Refined Carbohydrate and Prostate Problems

Different studies have shown that there is a direct link between refined carbohydrates and prostate cancer. For example, in 2012, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutritiondemonstrated that there is an association between dietary intakes of carbohydrate, refined carbohydrates and prostate cancer.

The study recruited 8,128 men who were within the ages of 45 – 73 years without a history of cancer, diabetes or any cardiovascular disease. After a follow up time of 15 years during which the dietary habits of the participants were followed, prostate cancer was diagnosed in 817 of the men.

The results showed that there were no positive associations between total carbohydrates or prostate cancer even after adjustment for age or other potential risk factors and that there was a positive association between high intakes of refined carbohydrates and prostate cancer.



Certain foods can cause prostate problems in men, for example, the consumption of red meat has been linked to prostate cancer. Find out how red meat can damage the prostate and what other foods to avoid to reduce your risk of prostate problems. Prostate problems are common among men who...