COMMENTARY

Which Diet Confers the Most Benefit in Prostate Cancer?

Gerald Chodak, MD

Disclosures

July 02, 2015

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Hello. I am Dr Gerald Chodak for Medscape. Today I want to talk about a prospective study that looked at the impact of diet on men with prostate cancer.

Meng Yang and colleagues[1] assessed the dietary patterns of 926 men who participated in the Physicians' Health Study. The men were sent questionnaires about their dietary intake during the 5 years after their cancer diagnosis. They were then followed for 10 more years.

The study defined two diets: a Western diet and a healthy diet. The men on a Western diet ate processed and red meats, high-fat dairy foods, and refined grains. Fruit was not part of the Western diet, but sweets, cakes, candy, potatoes, and eggs were included. In the healthy-diet group, the men ate fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and a minimum or a reduced amount of food from the Western diet.

When divided into quartiles, the men who had the highest intake of a Western dietary pattern had higher overall risks for mortality and prostate cancer mortality. Conversely, the men in the highest quartile for the healthy diet had the lowest overall mortality.

The study did not find a significant correlation between the healthy diet and prostate cancer mortality, primarily because there weren't enough prostate cancer deaths in that group.

The bottom line from this analysis was that a Western diet was not good for overall survival or prostate cancer survival.

The researchers were able to identify what they thought were the most important products in the diet. For men eating the healthy diet, oil and vinegar used in salad dressings were identified as conferring a benefit.

Other studies have looked at the benefits of oil and vinegar and found that the Mediterranean diet, with significant olive oil intake,[2] improves overall health and reduces mortality.Whether that will help men who have a diagnosis of prostate cancer is less clear.

It is interesting, however, that most of the men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer don't actually die from prostate cancer. They die from other causes.

For men who want to improve their overall survival, these guidelines suggest avoiding the Western diet. Whether a Mediterranean diet will lower their risk of dying from prostate cancer remains unclear. There is considerable uncertainty even in the literature.

There are some shortcomings to the study. For example, mainly white male physicians were studied. It is unclear how applicable this study would be to other races or socioeconomic groups.

For now, this adds to information suggesting that the typical Western diet is not good for overall health, and not good for men with a diagnosis of localized prostate cancer because it appears to increase the mortality risk.

Whether switching diets reduces the risk of dying from prostate cancer is unclear, but eating a healthy diet will certainly help reduce the risk of dying from other causes.

I look forward to your comments. Thank you.

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