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Eat To Grow: Boron to Be Healthy

Researchers say the mineral helps fight prostate cancer.

The trace mineral boron is found primarily in fruits, vegetables and nuts. Several years ago a study involving older women showed that boron supplements may increase steroid hormone levels, including testosterone. Unfortunately, that research was taken out of context, and a few overzealous food supplement companies rushed boron supplements onto the market, hyping the substance as a potent testosterone booster. Later studies that involved young men revealed no effects of boron on testosterone synthesis in normal, healthy males. That’s not to say that boron is useless. Other studies show that it may interact with calcium and magnesium metabolism to help prevent the bone disease called osteoporosis. Another study showed that boron may positively affect brain waves linked to greater mental alertness.

The latest study, which was presented by scientists from the University of California School of Public Health, examined whether boron helps to prevent various types of cancer. Based on international food surveys, the study found a statistically relevant association between boron intake and the prevention of prostate cancer. An estimated 180,400 new cases of prostate cancer are projected to occur this year, representing 29 percent of new cancer cases in men. The men getting higher levels of boron in this study showed a 64 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer’with the greater the intake, the higher the protection.

Eating 3 1/2 servings of boron-rich foods a day would place a man in the high-boron-intake category. Good food sources include nuts, grapes, dried fruits, avocados, red wine and grape juice. Red wine and grapes also contain resveratrol, a nutrient that also may help prevent various types of cancer.

This study adds boron to the list of nutrients that appear to offer some degree of protection against prostate cancer. The other nutrients include lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes and other red fruits or vegetables; vitamin E, especially gamma tocopherol; and soy isoflavones. It’s also a good idea eat cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower. IM

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