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Diet, Lifestyle May Affect Prostate Cancer Risk

Eating high-fiber carbs, drinking less milk, avoiding diabetes and heart risk factors may help cut risk

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Diet and lifestyle can play a role in lowering a man's risk of prostate cancer, according to a trio of new studies.

A diet rich in complex carbohydrates and lower in protein and fat is associated with a 60 percent to 70 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer, said Adriana Vidal, a co-author of two of the studies and an assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.

In addition, a fiber-filled diet reduced the risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 70 percent to 80 percent, according to Vidal.

"Good carbs, high-quality carbs, and high fiber are definitely protective against prostate cancer," Vidal said.

The two other studies found that:

  • Drinking lots of milk could increase a man's risk of advanced prostate cancer.
  • Men suffering from two or more health problems linked to metabolic syndrome also have an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase a person's risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. They include obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, elevated levels of triglycerides (blood fats) and reduced levels of "good" HDL cholesterol.

"When men have two metabolic syndrome components, their risk of high-grade prostate cancer goes up almost 35 percent," Vidal said. "With three to four components, their risk goes to almost 94 percent increased."

These studies shed more light on connections between diet, lifestyle and prostate cancer that up to now have been "tenuous," said Dr. Durado Brooks, director of prostate and colorectal cancers for the American Cancer Society.

"We don't have as good evidence regarding a link between diet and prostate cancer as we do with colorectal cancer or breast cancer, and there has been some conflicting data in previous studies," Brooks said.

The first study focused on a group of 430 veterans at the VA Hospital in Durham, N.C., including 156 men with confirmed prostate cancer. Researchers had the men fill out questionnaires to track the amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat in their daily diets.

The researchers found that when men received more of their energy from carbohydrates rather than protein or fat, their risk of prostate cancer declined. High fiber intake also appeared to reduce prostate cancer risk.

Additionally, they found that foods like simple carbohydrates that cause blood sugar to spike appear to increase prostate cancer risk in black men.

That finding, along with the results of the metabolic syndrome study, seem to indicate there could be an as-yet-unknown connection between blood sugar levels and male hormones like testosterone that increase prostate cancer risk, Vidal said.

In the second study, doctors reviewed the consumption of dairy products among nearly 3,000 people, including almost 1,900 men with either localized or advanced prostate cancer.

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