Mediterranean diet shown superior to Western diet in reducing the risk of prostate cancer

Article

"Our recommendation is to adopt a Mediterranean diet enlisting the help of a dietician, because people absorb nutrients in different ways, depending on the food, the digestive system, the person’s genotype and possibly their microbiome," says Permal Deo, MD.

Two studies from the University of South Australia, Adelaide highlight the positive impact of a diet consisting of colorful fruits and vegetables in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.1,2

The data from both studies were published in the journal Cancers.

The conclusion is based on 2 studies conducted by investigators from the University of South Australia, Adelaide.

The conclusion is based on 2 studies conducted by investigators from the University of South Australia, Adelaide.

The first study1 looked at the DNA damage present in the white blood cells of patients with prostate cancer (n=103) in comparison with those of age-matched healthy controls (n=132). Blood samples from all participants were collected after overnight fasting.

The investigators found that the white blood cells from patients with prostate cancer had more DNA damage in comparison with the control group. Patients with prostate cancer were also found to be more prone to ionizing radiation-induced (3 Gy) DNA damage, given that when the cultured white blood cells of prostate cancer patients with low selenium and lycopene were exposed to 3 Gy radiation, the cells showed increased chromosome instability.

This indicated that the excess of DNA damage in patients with prostate cancer may be explained by lower levels of selenium and lycopene in the blood. The authors concluded that higher dietary intakes of lycopene and selenium could help reduce DNA damage to white blood cells as well as reduce the overall risk of prostate cancer.

The second study2 analyzed the concentration of micronutrients in plasma of men who received a diagnosis of late-onset prostate cancer compared with that of healthy age-matched controls.

Data showed that the plasma concentrations of lutein, lycopene, α-carotene, β-carotene and selenium were reduced, and levels of iron, sulfur, and calcium were increased in the prostate cancer cohort. The investigators point out that these micronutrient patterns are indicators of a Western dietary pattern rich in dairy and meat and lacking in plant-based foods.

The authors also suggested that the concentration profile of these micronutrients in patients may serve as an indicator to determine those who have a higher risk for prostate cancer.

The results from both studies point to adopting a diet with more colorful fruits and vegetables, such as the Mediterranean diet, as opposed to a Western diet or taking supplements.

Permal Deo, MD, a co-author on both studies, emphasized this point in a news release on the findings3, saying, “Our recommendation is to adopt a Mediterranean diet enlisting the help of a dietician, because people absorb nutrients in different ways, depending on the food, the digestive system, the person’s genotype and possibly their microbiome.”

References

1. Dhillon VS, Deo P, Fenech M. Effect of selenium and lycopene on radiation sensitivity in prostate cancer patients relative to controls. Cancers. Published online Feb 3, 2023. Accessed March 10, 2023. doi:10.3390/cancers15030979

2. Dhillon VS, Deo P, Fenech M. Plasma micronutrient profile of prostate cancer cases is altered relative to healthy controls—results of a pilot study in South Australia. Cancers. Published online December 23, 2022. Accessed March 10, 2023. doi:10.3390/cancers15010077

3. Mediterranean diet the best prevention against prostate cancer. News release. University of South Australia. Published online March 8, 2023. Accessed March 10, 2023. https://www.newswise.com/articles/mediterranean-diet-the-best-prevention-against-prostate-cancer?sc=mwhr&xy=10016681

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