A possible connection between high levels of zinc in the diet and being diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer has emerged recently, according to recently published research findings.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Zinc is one of those essential minerals when you hear the phrase “essential vitamins and minerals”. Our body needs a certain amount of zinc to function properly and we can’t synthesize it ourselves, which is why we need to take it in from dietary sources. It plays a role in the production and function of more than 300 enzymes in our body and is particularly important to healthy prostate function. This makes getting enough zinc in your diet an important goal.
Yet new research, recently published in the journal Nutrients, has revealed that too much dietary zinc may have a paradoxical effect on prostate health. Specifically, researchers have discovered that men that ingested more than 10.53 mg of zinc per day were 66 percent more likely to be diagnosed with a prostate tumor with a Gleason score of 6 (a low to moderate-risk prostate cancer type).
A Mysterious Predicament
Researchers have known for some time that zinc plays a strong role in prostate health, but these new results are certainly atypical when viewed through the lens of older scientific studies. Existing research has, in fact, shown that zinc concentrations in prostate cancer tissues are much lower than in healthy prostate cells, which could easily lead you to believe that it’s a zinc deficiency that may be part of the problem — until this new study’s findings.
This does complicate things when it comes to pinning down the role zinc plays in either supporting or endangering prostate health. Much more research is going to be needed to discover exactly what mechanism is at play here, but there is some good news: so far, researchers say that there’s no evidence that high zinc intake isn’t associated with the kinds of highly aggressive types of prostate cancer that are associated with Gleason scores of 8, 9, or 10.
Also, keep in mind that this particular study looked at around 600 men from just one country. Further studies will have to be done to truly uncover how dietary zinc plays a role in either supporting or hindering prostate health. As a result, you likely don’t need to adjust your multivitamin regimen just yet!