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Diet, Nutrition & Prostate Cancer

Good nutrition may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer, slow progression of the disease, and prevent aggressive disease. In this section, we discuss guidelines for a healthy diet pre-, post- and during prostate cancer treatment. These tips, however, should never be used as a replacement for treatment.

Plate filled with chopped vegetables

Why is healthy eating important?

Improved nutrition reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, and usually improves overall quality of life. It’s estimated that one-third of cancer deaths of adults in the United States may be linked to poor diet, including diet’s effect on obesity. A healthy diet helps to increase energy levels, facilitate recovery, and enhance the immune system.

It’s important to evaluate diet choices when it comes to risk of prostate cancer. Research is continually being conducted on foods and diets that may reduce or increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Nutrition before treatment

Recent studies have indicated that the risk of dying from prostate cancer is more than double in obese men diagnosed with the disease compared with men of normal weight at the time of diagnosis. Obese men with local or regional disease have been shown to have nearly four times the risk of their cancer spreading beyond the prostate or metastasizing. Reaching or maintaining a healthy weight is a great goal to have to improve your overall health which can have a positive effect on your prostate cancer journey. 

Healthy weight and diet that consists of vitamins, minerals, high-fiber, low sugar, and hydration is a great goal to have before beginning prostate cancer treatment. This allows the body to have the needed nutrients that could be beneficial during treatment.

The Healthy Plate is a great visual to use to know how much of each food group makes up a healthy meal.

Healthy eating plate

Nutrition during treatment

Prostate cancer treatment may affect your appetite, eating habits, and weight, but it is important for you to maintain a healthy weight, get essential nutrients, and remain as physically active as possible.

Diet and nutrition tips while in treatment:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • For some men, this means avoiding weight loss by getting enough calories on a daily basis.
    • For men who are overweight and are obese, this may mean losing some weight. If you are trying to lose weight, it should be moderate, meaning only about a pound a week.
  • Get essential nutrients the body needs, such as protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water. Not only will your body function better, you will feel better.
    • Protein can be especially important during some treatments. Get your protein from foods such as fish, egg whites, cheese, beans, or high protein smoothies.
  • Be as active as you can, such as taking a daily walk. If you sit or sleep too much, you may lose muscle mass and increase your body fat, even if you are not gaining weight. See more on physical activity and prostate cancer.
  • Discuss the nutrition-related side effects for your chosen treatment with your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist. Some side effects may be treated with medication.

Treatment and diet-related side effects

Each treatment can present different nutritional side effects. It’s important to discuss these side effects and understand them prior to treatment. 

It is possible for the side effects of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy to cause you to lose your appetite, eat less, and lose weight. If you have difficulty eating due to side effects from treatment, there are ways to make eating more comfortable.


  • Protein and micronutrient consumption is required for healing.
    • Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that our bodies do not produce, with the exception of Vitamin D. These vitamins and minerals need to come from our diets.
    • Getting nutrients from the source is recommended over supplements.

Radiation therapy

  • Consider probiotic and/or anti-diarrheal medication to lessen gas and diarrhea
    • Always consult your care team to confirm use and dosages
  • Modify fiber and fat intake to help against rectal urgency and loose stool

Hormone therapy/androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)

  • Bone loss
    • Consume 1000-1200mg of calcium daily
    • Adequate Vitamin D level (>30ng/ml)
      • Ask care team about daily vitamin D supplements to maintain normal levels
  • Weight gain, increased risk of diabetes, and heart disease
    • Weight management interventions with diet and physical activity to reduce cardiovascular risk
    • Monitor need to regulate carbohydrates intake
  • Hot flashes
    • Maintain healthy weight, add moderate aerobic exercise, and limit or avoid hot beverages, spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and smoking to reduce severity of symptoms
  • Loss of muscle
    • Consider protein supplements
  • Preliminary evidence suggests that supplementation may assist with muscle protein synthesis, especially when combined with resistance exercise
  • Anemia
    • Talk to your care team about maximizing iron absorption and consuming adequate iron. 


Chemotherapy can cause nausea, mouth sores, and taste changes that may make it difficult to eat or drink.

  • If water tastes unpleasant to you, take in more liquid though items such as soup, tea, milk or milk alternatives, a sports drink, or flavor your water by adding fresh cut fruit.
  • If food tastes bland, try seasoning it with flavorful spices such as garlic, cayenne, dill, and rosemary.
  • Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of trying to eat large amounts of food at one time.
  • Suck on mints, chew on gum, or try fresh citrus fruits if you have a metallic taste in your mouth. Brushing your teeth before eating, using plastic utensils, and cooking in glassware can also help.
  • If you have mouth sores or a gum infection, use a blender to make vegetables and meats smooth. Try making smoothies with both fruits and veggies.

Meeting with a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) can be very helpful for you and your caregiver(s). RDNs can help you plan what to eat and what foods to limit or avoid. They can also provide help if you are losing or gaining weight due to treatment. RDNs can be beneficial for caregivers as a resource to provide practical education and support, including meal plans and healthy recipes to make (or request from friends) if their loved one is unable to do so. 

Nutrition after treatment

Once you have finished treatment, it is just as important to maintain a healthy diet and weight as it was before and during treatment. 

After treatment, continue to follow a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and other unprocessed, low-fat foods to help you regain strength. Healthy eating can also reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

Recent research suggests that making healthy food choices in your survivorship may lower your risk of recurrence and help you live longer. According to many experts, the types of foods that may help prevent prostate cancer are the same ones that may protect against prostate cancer recurrence. These experts recommend: 

  • plant-based foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains)
  • lean protein
  • low-fat dairy products
  • avoiding highly processed foods and red meats as much as possible