Prostate Cancer and Overweight, Diabetes and Blood Sugar & Bulgur Wheat Uses

Q: Does being overweight affect a man’s risk of prostate cancer?
Q: I have diabetes and my doctor keeps telling me that my blood sugar is still too high. I feel fine, so does it really matter?
Q: Is all bulgur a whole grain? Does it have other uses besides in tabbouleh?


Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Does being overweight affect a man’s risk of prostate cancer?
A: Research is not yet clear about whether overweight men are at greater risk of prostate cancer overall, but they do seem more likely to develop an aggressive form of prostate cancer. A 2007 study found that obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer are more than twice as likely to die of the disease then leaner men. The obese men also faced more than three times the risk that the cancer will spread beyond their prostate. Previous studies suggest that obese men who get prostate cancer may be more likely to have recurrence of cancer after treatment, but it is not known whether weight reduction could change that tendency.

Q: I have diabetes and my doctor keeps telling me that my blood sugar is still too high. I feel fine, so does it really matter?
A: Yes! Many people with diabetes have blood sugar that doesn’t get to the extremely high levels that can result in coma and even death. For them, the real health danger of diabetes is that their high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and possibly lead to other health problems. Studies have confirmed that controlling blood sugar levels is vital to delay development of kidney disease, nerve damage and eye damage that leads to blindness; all of these are long-term complications of poorly controlled diabetes. Even modestly high blood sugar over the years dramatically increases risk of heart attack. And studies suggest that high blood sugar may increase risk of at least some kinds of cancer. The combination of a balanced diet, appropriate portions, weight control, regular exercise and proper medical therapy can make a big difference in the long-term health of anyone with diabetes.

Q: Is all bulgur a whole grain? Does it have other uses besides in tabbouleh?
A: Bulgur is whole grain wheat that is boiled, dried, cracked and sifted by size. Bulgur is considered a whole grain since no more than five percent of the bran is removed in processing. You can find bulgur in the grocery store near the pasta or rice, or in a specialty food aisle. Sometimes it is sold as a pilaf or tabbouleh mix. Bulgur is one of those rare “convenience foods” that loses nothing nutritionally for convenience. It is pre-cooked and in some recipes requires only hot water or broth for preparation. Compared to brown rice, another whole grain, bulgur contains fewer calories and more than twice as much fiber. Different size grinds may be used interchangeably based on personal preference and the dish. Fine grind bulgur makes a nutritious breakfast cereal (similar to but more nutritious than cream of rice or wheat). Fine or medium grinds can go in tabbouleh, a dish containing bulgur, parsley, olive oil, spices and tomatoes. Both fine and medium grinds can also be served as a hot grain side dish like rice or can substitute for rice in recipes. Medium grind is an all-purpose size also used in stews, soups, meatless burgers and chili. Coarse grind is great for casseroles and can be used in pilafs, soups, salads and added to bread ingredients. Whole kernel bulgur is used in hearty soups and breads.

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research www.aicr.org

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