Vegetarian Diet Slows Prostate Cancer Progression
Men with prostate cancer who follow a low-fat vegetarian diet benefit from increased quality of life and slowed PSA doubling time, according to a recent study published in Urology. PSA doubling time is the amount of time it takes for levels of prostate-specific antigen, a biological marker for prostate cancer, to increase by 100 percent.
The study focused on 36 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, had undergone primary treatment for more than six months, and had continuous increases in PSA levels. The men were assigned to attend vegetarian nutrition and cooking classes or to a control group. Those in the vegetarian intervention group consumed significantly less saturated fat, more vegetable protein, and less animal protein, including fewer dairy products. The mean PSA doubling time at the three-month follow-up was substantially longer for the intervention group compared with that of the control group, meaning that the diet slowed cancer growth.
Carmody J, Olendzki B, Reed G, et al. A dietary intervention for recurrent prostate cancer after definitive primary treatment: results of a randomized pilot trial. Urology. 2008;72:1324-1328.
Vegetarian Diet Reduces Oxidative Damage in Older Women
As human bodies use oxygen, they produce molecules called “free radicals” that can damage cells and increase disease risk. But free radical damage may be reduced by a vegetarian diet, according to a recent study published in Physiological Research.
In this study, oxidative damage to DNA, lipids, and proteins was measured in vegetarian and nonvegetarian women aged 60 to 70 years old. The vegetarian women had significantly lower levels of oxidative damage compared with the meat-eaters. The vegetarian group also had significantly higher levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene, compared with the nonvegetarian group.
Plant-based diets are rich in antioxidants, which help protect DNA, lipids, and proteins from free radicals.
Krajcovicová-Kudlácková M, Valachovicová M, Pauková V, Dusinská M. Effects of diet and age on oxidative damage products in healthy subjects. Physiol Res. 2008;57:647-651.
Excess Iron Linked to Cancer Risk
Excess iron increases cancer risk through increased free radical production. And reducing the amount of iron in the body can lower cancer risk and mortality, according to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
This clinical trial assigned 1,277 patients with arterial disease to a control group or to iron reduction through blood collection.
After a follow-up period averaging 4.5 years, the iron-reduction treatment decreased overall cancer incidence by an average of 37 percent and reduced mortality from cancer and other causes.
Zacharski LR, Chow BK, Howes PS, et al. Decreased cancer risk after iron reduction in patients with peripheral arterial disease: results from a randomized trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100:976-977.
The Cancer Project is a nonprofit PCRM subsidiary that advances cancer prevention and survival through nutrition education and research.