ph0to of a man waiting for a prosate exam
Surviving a diagnosis of prostate cancer can be greatly helped by switching from a high meat/high fat Western diet to a more healthy plant-based diet

Western diet worsens prognosis of prostate cancer

10 June, 2015

Natural Health News — After a prostate cancer diagnosis, eating a typical Western diet higher in red and processed meat, high-fat dairy foods, and refined grains could significantly shorten your life

But, according to a new study a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, and healthy oils, could have the opposite effect.

The study, which appears online in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, offers insight on how diet may help improve the chances of survival for the nearly three million men living with prostate cancer in the US.

What you need to know

» How you eat when you have a diagnosis of prostate cancer can affect survival rates

» A high meat/high fat Western diet can raise the risk of death by  67%

» A healthy plant-based diet can lower your risk of death by 36%.

“There is currently very little evidence to counsel men living with prostate cancer on how they can modify their lifestyle to improve survival. Our results suggest that a heart-healthy diet may benefit these men by specifically reducing their chances of dying of prostate cancer,” said Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School in Boston and senior author of the study.

Healthy diet benefits

Researchers examined health and diet data from 926 men participating in the Physicians’ Health Study I and II who were diagnosed with prostate cancer. They followed the men for an average of 14 years after their diagnosis, grouping them according to whether they followed a Western dietary pattern or a “prudent” (higher consumption of vegetables, fruits, fish, legumes, and whole grains) dietary pattern.

Men who ate mostly a Western diet had two-and-a-half times higher risk of prostate cancer-related death – and a 67% increased risk of death from any cause. Men who ate mostly a “prudent” diet had a 36% lower risk of death from all causes.

“These results are encouraging and add to the scant literature on this area, but it is important to keep in mind that all study participants are physicians and most are white. Therefore it is very important that our results are replicated in other studies with more diverse socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds,” said lead author Meng Yang, research fellow at the Harvard Chan School.