‘New Ground’: Dietary Fats, Prostate Cancer Linked

Study finds survival impacted by small dietary changes

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New research shows men diagnosed with prostate cancer can make small dietary changes that are associated with their cancer survival and overall health.

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Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, studied men diagnosed with prostate cancer. They found that replacing just 10 percent of carbohydrates with vegetable fats was associated with a 29 percent lower risk of death from prostate cancer and a 26 percent lower risk of death from other causes.

“This study followed a large group of men with prostate cancer and surveyed them about their diets,” says oncologist Nima Sharifi, MD. “They found that the replacement of carbohydrates with vegetable fats was associated with a better outcome.”

If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Dr. Sharifi recommends a visit with a registered dietitian for help with improving your diet for overall health and longevity.

The diet, prostate cancer link

“This is new ground,” Dr. Sharifi says. “There are not a lot of data out there about the connection between diet and prostate cancer after diagnosis.”

For 24 years, this study followed 4,500 men with prostate cancer and found that men who consumed a diet high in vegetable-based “healthy” fats were less likely to die of any cause, including prostate cancer.

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This is important news as prostate cancer touches so many lives; one out of every six men will be diagnosed during his lifetime. Thankfully, it’s also highly survivable, with 98 percent of men living  at least 10 years after diagnosis.

Saturated fat, trans fat and their effect

In the research findings, vegetable-based “healthy” fats had a positive impact, but the opposite was also found to be true — a 5 percent increase in the intake of saturated fats (found in red meat) or 1 percent of trans fats (found in processed foods) was associated with a 25 percent to 30 percent higher risk of death from any cause.

“Obesity is a risk factor for developing prostate cancer, so adopting a healthy diet is also critical for men to protect themselves against the disease,” Dr. Sharifi says.

Low-fat confusion

With the prevalence of food marketing equating “low-fat” with healthy, Dr. Sharifi acknowledges that the idea of choosing the right kind of fats to improve prostate cancer survival can be confusing.

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That’s why he encourages patients to see a certified dietitian who can help them adopt a diet that could boost their survival rates.

“Diet does matter when it comes to prostate cancer, but we need more research to understand the impact and how men should modify their diets,” Dr. Sharifi says.

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