A study published in Nutrients earlier this summer points toward diet as a key risk factor for prostate cancer. Diet is known to have a significant factor in the development of other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Now, the paper entitled "Dietary Patterns Are Associated with Risk of Prostate Cancer in a Population-Based Case-Control Study in Montreal, Canada," puts forth evidence for the influence of diet on prostate cancer risk.
In conducting the study, lead author Karine Trudeau analyzed three main types of diets: healthy diet, salty Western diet, and sugar-rich Western diet. The healthy diet tends towards fruits, vegetables, and plant proteins like tofu and nuts. The salty Western diet looks like more meat and includes alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine. The third profile is rich in pasta, pizza, desserts, and sugary carbonated drinks. Trudeau accounted for age, ethnicity, education, family history, and date of last prostate cancer screening in her analysis.
"For a long time, we've suspected that diet might play a role in the development of prostate cancer, but it was very hard to pinpoint the specific factors at play," said Professor Marie-Élise Parent, who led the team of researchers at Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS).
The researchers wanted to take a holistic approach in analyzing diet. "It's not easy to isolate the effect of a single nutrient," explained Trudeau. "For example, foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, promote iron absorption. Calcium is often found in dairy products, which also contain vitamin D. Our more targeted approach takes this synergy into account to produce more meaningful results that public health authorities can use to formulate recommendations. Rather than counting on one miracle food, people should look at their overall diet."
It might not come as a surprise that the results indicate that a healthy diet is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer while the high-sugar diet is associated with a higher risk and also seemed to be a factor in more aggressive forms of cancer. The study did not show any clear link between the high-salt diet with salt with alcohol and the risk of prostate cancer.
"This study is significant because it looks at dietary habits as a whole. We've uncovered evidence that, we hope, can be used to develop prevention strategies for prostate cancer, the most common cancer among men in Canada and many other countries."