(Did a chicken cross the road to get Dr. Geo’s attention?)
I love chicken, I admit. Furthermore, and a bit more embarrassing since I teach and preach health, I love fried chicken – fried drumsticks to be exact. Argh! (that was painful). But I can’t remember the last time I had any. Maybe it’s just selective memory.
The reason why I don’t have much of the fried hens is that it’s not good for my body, despite the fact I find it tasty. And it is more important to me to not die prematurely. So, I stay away from eating deep fried chicken, most of the times.
What if the chicken is not fried? Is it OK to eat? Does eating chicken contribute to prostate cancer?
STUDIES ON CHICKEN AND PROSTATE CANCER
First, I’ll say this: While there is evidence for a dietary role in prostate cancer, the epidemiologic evidence is frustratingly inconsistent.
Thus, much of my conclusions are not based on the last study or the ones that attract more media headline. My recommendations are based on researching the best designed, prospective ( and less so retrospective research) and my clinical observations after seeing thousands of prostate cancer patients in my career so far.
OK, first, here is the current research os poultry and prostate cancer.
POULTRY AND PROSTATE CANCER
A study of 15 prospective cohort study involving close to 850,000 men from North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, examined the association of incidence of prostate cancer and the intake of unprocessed and processed red meat, seafood, eggs, and poultry. Authors did not find a significative association among unprocessed red meat and processed red meat intake and prostate cancer risk
Also, poultry and seafood was not observed in association with prostate cancer risk
Other studies in humans have shown that consumption of skinless poultry, which is lower in cholesterol and saturated fat than many red types of meat, was not associated with the recurrence or progression of prostate cancer
However, consumption of baked poultry was inversely associated with advanced prostate cancer. Meaning, those who ate baked poultry had a lower incidence of aggressive, potentially metastatic disease.
When cooking practices were considered, intake of baked poultry showed a mild protective effect with advanced prostate cancer, but when poultry was pan-fried, there was an increased risk of prostate cancer. This inverse association may be explained by a form of vitamin K2, menaquinone, present in dark poultry meat (not white meat, which most think is healthy) that has been associated with reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer in this European cohort.
While the link between menaquinone (K2) and prostate cancer has not been duplicated, I take fish oils with K2 and often recommend them to patients.
WHY DOES THE METHOD OF COOKING POULTRY MAKE A DIFFERENCE ON PROSTATE CANCER?
Pan-frying has been consistently implicated in the formation of meat cancer-forming chemicals. Also, the oil used in pan-frying acts as an efficient heat transfer medium between the pan and the surface of the meat, and therefore high surface temperatures are reached. Pan-frying does not expose meats to open flames and fats from the meats do not have an opportunity to drip on the flames undergoing incomplete combustion. Thus, pan-frying is typically not associated with accumulation of Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH).
TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT CHICKEN WITH PROSTATE CANCER?
Here are helpful tips if you or someone you love is trying to prevent, co-manage or prevent from dying from prostate cancer:
- Cooking methods matters with all animal meats, including chicken. Fried and grilled poultry are not good. Yes, I know grilling in the backyard is a big deal in many households, but I would refrain from doing so.
- Baking or slow cooking poultry like in a crockpot is best. In other words, slow, low-temperature cooking is better than fast, high-temperature cooking.
- Free roaming, cage-free hens that eat their natural diet (which includes worms) are leaner and healthier in general, though not sure if the benefits are prostate cancer-specific.
In general, fish seems to be your best dietary animal source for prostate cancer protection. But the cooking methods in fish preparation; slow cooking, less charring explained earlier still apply.