Prostate cancer has become the most common form of non-cutaneous (internal) malignancy in men, accounting for 26% of all new male visceral cancer cases in the UK. The aetiology and pathogenesis of prostate cancer are not understood, but given the age-adjusted geographical variations in prostate cancer incidence quoted in epidemiological studies, there is increasing interest in nutrition as a relevant factor. In particular, foods rich in phytochemicals have been proposed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Epidemiological studies have reported evidence that plant-based foods including cruciferous vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, pomegranate and green tea are associated with a significant reduction in the progression of prostate cancer. However, while there is well-documented mechanistic evidence at a cellular level of the manner by which individual dietary components may reduce the risk of prostate cancer or its progression, evidence from intervention studies is limited. Moreover, clinical trials investigating the link between the dietary bioactives found in these foods and prostate cancer have reported varied conclusions. Herein, we review the plant bioactives for which there is substantial evidence from epidemiological and human intervention studies. The aim of this review is to provide important insights into how particular plant bioactives (e.g., sulfur-containing compounds, carotenoids and polyphenols) present in commonly consumed food groups may influence the development and progression of prostate cancer.
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