Prostate Cancer Network
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Is high protein safe?

I'm 51, Gleason 6, and my PSA has ranged from 5.5 to 9.2 over the past year. I get a PSA test every 3 months.

I want to drink protein shakes after working out (3-4 times/wk), but a few months ago when I did that, my PSA went from 5.5 to 9.2. I stopped the protein shakes, and my PSA dropped to 7.5. It may have just been a coincidence, but I thought I'd ask this intelligent community if anyone knows if high-protein powder is bad for men with prostate cancer. Thanks!

3 Replies

No. Protein is good for the body. I would ask your doctor. You might have something else going on related to the PC, or not


There are several possible reasons for a rise in PSA besides an increase in tumors.

A major cause of a rise in PSA is inflammation in the prostate. That can be due to an infection, either bacterial or viral. Other irritations can also cause inflammation, including the effects of a digital rectal exam. I've had a couple of truly brutal DREs, that I believe caused an increase in PSA and hemorrhoid problems. Some say that bike riding can do it. It is known that an orgasm within a couple of days can have an effect. Also, a very impressive doctor at the National Cancer Institute once told me that PSA varies from day to day by as much as 30% and no one knows why.

I've not heard anything about protein intake causing an increase in cancer. I think that's unlikely because protein seems to be both useful and benign.

So I think you should be concerned and should keep getting PSA tests, but I don't think you necessarily have a problem. If you've got prostatitis (an infection or an irritation of the prostate), it can take many months or even longer to clear up. If you've got any pain or sensitivity in the prostate that may actually be a good sign because it can indicate prostatitis.

If the PSA keeps going up, consider getting another biopsy and possible treatment. If it just bounces around, sometimes up, sometimes down, with no long term trend up, you're probably good to keep going on your active surveillance.

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Whey protein is at least safe for, maybe even directly beneficial to, prostate cancer patients. The problem, if there is one, may be with the casein form of protein supplements. The evidence is not clear, but is of sufficient concern that I backed off on my casein protein supplements. Whey is an excellent, highly nutritious, very easily assimilated source of protein, and older men need more protein than younger men, cancer/ADT or not. Heavy exercise bumps our need for protein even more. That 60 gms a day stuff is for survival, not for optimal health. My primary sources include meat (any animal flesh, by my definition), whey, cheese (full-fat, of course), eggs, and nuts. If my low-carb eating style permitted it, I'd add beans to the list.


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