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Opinions of Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Columnist: Kaakyire Yeboah

Prostate prostrate to zinc

Cancer -one of the most frightening words in any language. We shudder when we hear it. We think of wasting away slowly, hair falling out, and plenty of pain with it’s relentless march to death.

Cancer has many types with the commonest being breast, colon, prostate, rectum and lung cancers. WHO(world health organization) reports that 8.8 million people worldwide died from cancer in 2015. That is nearly 1 out of 6 of all global deaths. Moreover, 1.16 trillion dollars is the estimated total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010; staggering indeed.

But to display my bias as a man relative to cancer discussions, I wants to focus on prostate cancer which mostly affects men.

I read with utter dismay the GNA report of May 2, 2018 that “government must intensify the fight against prostate cancer, because it kills more people than cervical and breast cancers”. This revelation was shocking since breast and cervical cancers are the household names as far as cancer conditions and discussions are concerned. The figures were alarming :” if nine men get prostate cancer and six die then is a problem we have to look at seriously “,the report added.

Indeed, the GNA report is in sync with similar report by the Daily Guide of 8th April 2014 entitled ‘Shocking Statistics of Prostate Cancer in Ghana’. The report revealed that Ghana has one of the highest prevalence rate of prostate cancer worldwide. The figures? “Eight out of ten Ghanaian men would be diagnosed with prostate cancer……As of 2007, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital revealed that, the country has exceeded the global average of 170 men out of every 100,000 to 200 men out 100,000”.

The Daily Guide report concluded that “a global cancer database compiled in 2010 for International Agency for Research on Cancer indicated that Ghana records an estimated number of 921 new prostate cancer cases every year while an estimated prostate cancer deaths of 758 deaths are recorded every year.”

With this substantial evidence of prostate cancer in Ghana, what can be done to overturn the tables and what capacity exist to reduce it’s burden and improve the survival and quality of life of people living with the condition?

It is distinctively sad that many are ignorant of the brotherly link of diet and cancers . In fact it is believed that dietary factors account for some 40% of all cancers; diet is only secondary to tobacco as a preventable cause. But for breast, colon and prostate cancers, scientific evidence now links 50% to over nutrition -too much fat and too much weight.

WHO recommends dietary modification as another important approach to cancer control .

The book ‘Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Prevention' also has this to say: “the evidence is growing that eating too much fat may increase your chances of getting cancers of the colon, breast, prostate and endometrium(lining of the uterus)”. The conclusion? That diet can make a difference in many cancers.

The book ‘Healing Foods' by Dr. Pamplona D. Rogers stated that “the most important causal factors cancers is improper diet. This was discovered in the second half of the 19th century in the United States. Unfortunately the medical establishment paid scant attention to the proposals of proponents of natural medicine. Consequently, until recently, anyone who might help prevent or treat cancers was considered a charlatan. However, in recent decades, there has been a recent increase in scientific evidence that eating certain foods has a great deal to do with cancer”.

The bottom line -there is an intimate relationship between cancer and diet. Some cause it while others help prevent.

With regard to prostate cancer, the prostate is shaped like an inverted pyramid in the lower abdomen under the bladder. It is peculiar to the male but related to the tissue type to the female breast. At the time of birth, it is not much larger than an almond. However, with the onset of puberty, it grows to be as big as the chestnut.

The prostate is made up of a well-muscled capsule within which are found between 30 to 50 sac-like glands. These glands produce the prostatic fluids, without which a man would almost certainly be infertile.

Not all the prostate’s functions are known, but it’s primary purpose seems to produce the fluid that nourishes the millions of sperm cells and provides them with the medium to swim in. Thus, it is vital for a man’s fertility. It can, though, cause problems as one gets older with prostatitis, prostate enlargement, and prostate cancer being the common ones.

Interestingly, studies have been made to show the prostate to be a major concentration of zinc in the body. When a man’s diet is inadequate of zinc, the prostate gland begins to loose this trace element, and researchers link this to a variety of prostate problems. Many men claim to have found relief for their troubles with the aid of dietary supplement of zinc. Zinc actually has a multiple functions that involves the immune system and antioxidant activities making them important in preventing cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Meats like oysters, beef, lamb, chicken are good sources of zinc.
Seeds like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, squash seed, nuts, chickpeas, avocados, beans, pomegranates, wheat germ are equally important sources.

Garlic, mushrooms, watermelon and dark chocolate cannot be left out.

The Awake magazine also said that men who eats large amount of fatty fish, such as salmon, herring and mackerel, are two to three times less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who rarely eat fish, say research from the Karolinska institute in Stockholm. The research concluded that the so-called omega 3 fatty acids found particularly in oily fish apparently impede the growth of prostate cancer.

The American Society of Cancer recommends limiting your intake of high fat foods from animal sources and choosing most foods from plant sources. It also recommends eating of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Tomatoes, grapefruit and watermelons are rich in lycopene -antioxidants that help prevent damage to DNA and may help lower prostate cancer risk.

Red meats, alcoholic beverages, milk, eggs, hot spices, coffee, sugars, white bread are all recipes for cancer and must be avoided or eat with extreme care.
In conclusion, it is becoming increasingly obvious that what we eat and drink, where we live and work and what we breathe can greatly influence whether we get cancer or not. The good news is that this trend can be stopped, and reversed. If people would simply take the precautions most already know about, some 50-70% of the cancers in Africa could be prevented.
Fellow men and Ghanaians, yen sempa!!