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Science Nook: Plant-Based Diet and Prostate Cancer

Plant-based diets may include lacto-ovo vegetarian (eats dairy and eggs), vegan (does not eat dairy or eggs), or an eating pattern that is mostly made up of plants (vegetables, fruit, grains, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds) but may still include animal products apart from just dairy and eggs. Plant-based eating patterns have significant health and environmental benefits. In the below study, the authors explore the relationship between plant-based diets and prostate cancer.

Study

Systematic review of the impact of a plant-based diet on prostate cancer incidence and outcomes

Journal: The Journal of Urology

This study was presented at the American Urological Association Annual Meeting. It was a systematic review that included 31 publications — 16 interventional studies and 15 observational studies. The studies looked at plant-based diets and outcomes in individuals with or at risk of prostate cancer.

Findings

The authors found:

  1. The interventional studies found an association between plant-based diets and improvements in short-term oncologic outcomes and in general health and nutritional parameters in those with localized prostate cancer or with biochemical recurrence after treatment.
  2. The observational studies found an association between plant-based diets and decreased risk of prostate cancer, or no association between the two.


For the Patient and Caregiver

Plant-based eating may have a beneficial impact on overall health by decreasing risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. It may also help regulate blood sugar, manage cholesterol, and reduce inflammation. It is important to consider what foods make up a plant-based diet. For example, both an eating pattern rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and an eating pattern rich in processed carbohydrates such as white breads and sweets, may be considered vegetarian. Aim to choose mostly whole, rather than processed and packaged, plant-based foods such as leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, berries, quinoa, edamame, and walnuts, just to name a few. For more information on eating plant-based, check out this post.

For the Healthcare Team

Author of the study, Natasha Gupta, MD reported, “For men at risk of developing prostate cancer, those who were vegetarian or vegan were either significantly less likely or had equivalent risk of developing prostate cancer over time compared to men who ate meat and/or fish. Notably, no study showed an increased risk of developing prostate cancer with a plant-based diet” [ii]. This finding is particularly interesting as a Mediterranean diet, which is mostly made up of plant-based foods, does also include fish. In general, encouraging patients to aim for mostly whole, plant-based foods, may be beneficial to their overall health.


References:

[i] Gupta N, Taylor J, Borin J, Jacobsohn K, Kenfield S, Eggener S…Loeb S (2022). Systematic review of the impact of a plant-based diet on prostate cancer incidence and outcomes. The Journal of Urology 207:5S, Supplement, e42. https://doi.org/10.1097/JU.0000000000002518.04

[ii] Marabito M (2022, May 18). Plant-based diet may lower prostate cancer risk, lead to favorable outcomes. Healio News. https://www.healio.com/news/primary-care/20220518/plantbased-diet-may-lower-prostate-cancer-risk-lead-to-favorable-outcomes

Jenna Koroly, MS, RD, CSOWM, CDN

Jenna is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has been a part of the Savor Health team since October 2016, and gained further clinical knowledge in oncology while performing nutrition assessments at Northern Westchester Hospital and Amsterdam Nursing Home as a dietetic intern. Jenna provides nutrition counseling for patients in Medical Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery settings at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston. She is passionate about nutrition therapy and exercise for oncology patients.

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