Prostate cancer has impacted the lives of many people due to the fact that it is one of the most common types of cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. Age, race, obesity, and family history are just a few of the factors that determine whether a person is more likely to develop the disease. And now, a new study has found that eating an unhealthy diet that includes a fair share of processed meat can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
In a study recently published in European Urology, blood was taken from 12,000 people during the 1980s and 1990s. Data was also collected from the participants regarding different aspects of their lifestyles. Then those behind the study took a look at who was following a healthy lifestyle – that is, one that includes eating good food (including a diet rich in fish and tomatoes, but not processed meat), maintaining a healthy weight, and getting a large amount of exercise. Sports, not smoking – and this information was used in conjunction with the 2021 genome-wide association study. By doing this, they determined that men with a higher genetic risk of developing prostate cancer reduced their risk of fatal prostate cancer by 45%.
The corresponding author said: “All men should be encouraged to engage in maintaining a healthy lifestyle given the benefits it produces. For men at increased genetic risk of prostate cancer, a healthy lifestyle may be especially important.” Anna Plame, Ph.D.of Brigham’s Department of Urology, according to EurekAlert! “Among the factors we studied, maintaining a healthy weight and taking regular exercise, as well as abstaining from smoking, appear to be the most important.”
“I found the study very informative, but given my understanding of healthy lifestyles, that wasn’t overly surprising,” Dana Ellis Hoeness, Ph.D., MPH, RD, Senior Clinical Dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, Assistant Professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and author of A recipe for survival Tells Eat this, not that! “I think the most surprising aspect for most people is how much of a role diet plays in cancer risk, especially hereditary cancer risk, and how a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly mitigate that risk.”
Hunnes explains that “a healthy diet can reduce the risk of fatal prostate cancer since there are many foods (processed meats, processed foods/sugars) that affect hormone levels (testosterone/estrogen, etc.).” Furthermore, “Some types of cancer, including prostate cancer, are affected by hormone levels, which may explain why men who drink high levels of cow’s milk (which contains natural estrogen) have a greater risk of developing prostate cancer than men who avoid Cow’s milk and/or vegetable.
As for the specific foods referenced in the study results that may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, Hunnes notes, “Tomatoes with high levels of lycopene (higher/more bioavailable when cooked) are well-proven to help reduce prostate cancer risk, It is an antioxidant and a phytonutrient.” At the same time, “fish may reduce the risk of prostate cancer due to its healthy polyunsaturated fats, which we can also get from plant sources including algae.”
On the other hand, “processed meat from inflammatory foods known to raise TMAO and IGF-1, an insulin-like growth factor, can also affect other hormones in the body because everything is interconnected.” This is why “eating processed meat, increased inflammation, and certain hormones can also increase the risk of some cancers.”
To find out how your diet can affect your chances of developing the disease, be sure to read about the things that prevent “fatal” prostate cancer.
Desirée O is a freelance writer covering lifestyle news, food, and nutrition, among other topics. Read more