Diet changes reduce all-cause mortality risk in prostate cancer patients

June 17, 2013

Men with prostate cancer may significantly improve their survival chances with a simple change in their diet, according to a recent study.

Men with prostate cancer may significantly improve their survival chances with a simple change in their diet, according to a recent study.

By substituting healthy vegetable fats-such as olive and canola oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados-for animal fats and carbohydrates, men with the disease had a markedly lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer and dying from other causes, according to the authors, who published their findings online in JAMA Internal Medicine (June 10, 2013).

The research, involving nearly 4,600 men with non-metastatic prostate cancer, could help with the development of dietary guidelines for men with the disease. While prostate cancer affects millions of men around the world, little is known about the relationship between patients’ diets following their diagnosis and progression of the disease.

“Consumption of healthy oils and nuts increases plasma antioxidants and reduces insulin and inflammation, which may deter prostate cancer progression,” said lead author Erin L. Richman, ScD, of the University of California, San Francisco’s department of epidemiology and biostatistics.

“The beneficial effects of unsaturated fats and harmful effects of saturated and trans fats on cardiovascular health are well known,” Dr. Richman said. “Now our research has shown additional potential benefits of consuming unsaturated fats among men with prostate cancer.”

The data were derived from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which began in 1986 and is sponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health and funded by the National Cancer Institute.

The fat intake study involved 4,577 men who had been diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer between 1986 and 2010. During the study time frame, 1,064 men died, primarily from cardiovascular disease (31%), prostate cancer (21%) and other cancers (nearly 21%).

The authors found that men who replaced 10% of their total daily calories from carbohydrates with healthy vegetable fats had a 29% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer and a 26% lower risk of dying from all causes.

Adding a single serving of oil-based dressing per day (one tablespoon) was associated with a 29% lower risk of lethal prostate cancer and a 13% lower risk of death, the authors found. And adding one serving of nuts per day (one ounce) was associated with an 18% lower risk of lethal prostate cancer and an 11% lower risk of death.

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