Olives, Nuts and Avocados, Oh My!

Prostate cancer patients who consume vegetable fats reduce risks

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) You are what you eat, right? That may be especially true with regards to diet and cancer. More and more research shows that healthier dietary choices lead to reduced cancer risks. 

According to new research, simple diet changes may help men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer live longer.

Vegetable fats from nuts, olive and canola oils, avocados and seeds appear to have a protective effect.  

Replacing some animal fats and carbohydrates with healthy vegetable fats lowered these men's risk of dying from all causes, as well as lowering the risk of developing a deadly prostate cancer.

"Try to eat something green with every meal!"

Erin L. Richman, ScD, a post-doctoral scholar in the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, was a lead author of the study.

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

E. David Crawford, MD, professor of surgery, urology and radiation oncology, and head of the Section of Urologic Oncology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) in Denver, told dailyRx News, “This is yet another study which underscores what I and others have stated for years - what is heart healthy is prostate healthy.”

Previous research has demonstrated that taking an active role in a healthy diet can be an excellent way for men diagnosed with prostate cancer to influence the course and outcome of the disease. 

Another study has suggested an association between fat intake and disease progression. This is the first research to evaluate how a man’s fat consumption after a prostate cancer diagnosis influences the path of the disease.

In this study, researchers studied the fat consumption patterns of 4,577 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer that had not spread (non-metastatic).

The team relied on data gathered from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which began in 1986.

The study uncovered that even minimal diet changes had a big impact:

  • Using vegetable fats to replace 10 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates decreased a man’s risk of developing a lethal prostate cancer by 29 percent; the switch also lowered the risk of dying from any cause by 26 percent.
  • The addition of just one tablespoon of an olive or canola oil-based dressing cut the risks of lethal prostate cancer by 29 percent and the risk of death by 13 percent.
  • Adding one ounce of nuts dropped the risks of lethal cancer by 18 percent and death by 11 percent.

“Among men with non-metastatic prostate cancer, replacing carbohydrates and animal fat with vegetable fat may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality. The potential benefit of vegetable fat for prostate cancer-specific outcomes merits further research,” the authors concluded.

The study was published online on June 10 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 14, 2013
Last Updated:
August 7, 2013