Prostate Cancer Survival Improves with Low-Fat Vegan Diet, New Study Shows
Levels of Hormones That Feed Tumors Are Lower in Men Who Consume Less Fat and More Fiber
WASHINGTON—Men who increase consumption of cancer-fighting vegetarian foods and avoid foods that feed tumor growth, such as dairy products and meat, may significantly increase chances of living longer after prostate cancer diagnosis, say the authors of a new review in September’s Nutrition Reviews.
According to lead author Susan Berkow, Ph.D., C.N.S., and her colleagues, high-fat, low-fiber diets raise circulating testosterone, estradiol, and insulin levels, which in turn may fuel prostate cancer cell growth. Among men with the highest intake of saturated fat, the risk of dying from prostate cancer is three times higher than among men with the lowest intake, the authors found.
“For men diagnosed with prostate cancer, the key to improving the odds of survival is avoiding high-fat fare and instead choosing fruits, vegetables, beans and other cancer-fighting vegetarian foods,” says Dr. Berkow. “Many of the nutrients found in familiar foods appear to inhibit the growth of malignant cells.” Dr. Berkow is a nutrition scientist and consultant with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Co-authors are Neal D. Barnard, M.D., and Gordon A. Saxe, M.D., Ph.D.
The 76 published studies analyzed for the current review include the groundbreaking work by Dr. Dean Ornish that shows serum from patients following a low-fat vegan diet inhibits the growth of cultured prostate cancer cells eight times more than serum from a standard diet group. Several studies, including Dr Ornish’s, found that patients on a low-fat, plant-based diet experience a significant decrease in PSA levels, a marker for prostate cancer progression.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.