For patients with prostate cancer, a primary concern is that the disease may progress to an advanced stage that becomes life-threatening. New findings show that eating a diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains may significantly lower the chances of prostate cancer spreading.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, indicated that among men with prostate cancer, those who consume a high amount of plant-based foods cut their risk of cancer growing by almost half compared with those who eat low amounts of plant-based foods.

“Consuming a primarily plant-based diet may be associated with better prostate cancer–specific outcomes, adding to a list of other numerous health benefits, including a reduction in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality,” says lead author Vivian Liu, a clinical researcher affiliated with the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California in San Francisco. “Making small changes in one’s diet to eat more plant-based foods and less animal-based food each day is beneficial – and the more [plants] you eat, the better.”

Plant-Based Diet May Keep Prostate Cancer Under Control

The investigation involved more than 2,000 men who at study start were 65 years old on average and had a diagnosis of nonmetastatic prostate cancer – meaning it had not yet spread to other parts of the body.

Participants each completed a comprehensive diet and lifestyle questionnaire that provided a detailed picture of their eating habits.

Over an average of 6.5 years, 190 participants experienced cancer progression and 61 died from prostate cancer–specific causes.

Based on analysis of this data, Liu and her team determined that those who consumed the highest amounts of plant-based foods had a 47 percent lower risk of prostate cancer spreading compared with men who consumed the lowest amounts of plant-based foods.

Liu said that the results also point to an inverse relationship between plant-based consumption and dying prematurely, although information was insufficient to make a meaningful estimate as to a percent reduction in mortality risk.

Even Small Dietary Changes Make a Difference

In relation to the lowest level of plant-based consumption, the highest level meant eating 1.9 more portions of vegetables, 1.6 additional servings of fruit, and 0.9 more servings of whole grains every day.

To get a sense of what this means in real-life terms, a standard serving of fruit may be one medium apple, banana, orange, or pear. A half-cup of brown rice is considered a single serving of grains, while a single portion of vegetables may be a half-cup cooked or 1 cup raw broccoli, carrots.

Those eating high quantities of plant-based foods were also eating lower amounts of animal-based foods – on average, one less serving of dairy (such as a cup of milk or two slices of cheese), slightly fewer eggs, and marginally less meat.

According to Natasha Gupta, MD, a research assistant professor in the department of urology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City, these results add to a growing body of literature highlighting the benefits of plant-based diets in terms of a reduced prostate cancer risk, as well as improved quality of life.

Plant-Based Diet Offers Numerous Benefits for Prostate Health

Dr. Gupta herself has led a scientific review of 31 previously published studies related to this topic that confirmed the possible protective effects of vegetables, fruit, grains, and nuts when it comes to prostate health.

As to why a plant-based diet is beneficial, Gupta highlights that fruit and vegetables are rich in substances like phytochemicals and antioxidants, which may prevent harmful cellular changes. 

“On the other hand, animal-based foods like processed meat and red meat are known carcinogens according to the World Health Organization, and dairy has been linked to worse prostate cancer outcomes,” says Gupta, who was not involved in this study. “A plant-based dietary pattern naturally shifts away from these harmful foods to more helpful foods.”



Prostate Cancer the Most Common Among Men in the U.S.

Prostate cancer continues to be the most common cancer among men in the U.S. after skin cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 299,010 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2024 and about 35,250 will die from the condition.

While about 6 in 10 prostate cancers are diagnosed in men who are age 65 and up, Liu stresses that dietary changes can still make a difference in this older population.

“It’s not too late,” she says. “You don’t have to make a 180-degree change to your diet. Just focus on small changes to eat more plant-based foods and less animal-based food each day.”

Greater consumption of plant-based food after a prostate cancer diagnosis has also recently been associated with better quality of life, including sexual function, urinary function, and vitality – so it’s a win on many levels.”

SOURCE: Everyday Health