Low-Fat Diet May Cut Prostate Cancer Risk
Scientists at Jonsson Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, focused on fat from corn oil, which is made up primarily of omega-6 fatty acids. That’s the type of polyunsaturated fat typically used in high levels in processed baked goods and fried foods. The healthiest fats are omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish, or monounsaturated fat, the kind found in foods like almonds, pecans, cashew nuts, peanuts, avocados and olive and canola oil.
Using a mouse model that closely mimics human prostate cancer, researchers fed one group of mice a diet with about 40 percent of calories coming from fat, similar to the amount found in a typical Western diet. The other group received 12 percent of their calories from fat. The study, published this month in the journal Cancer Research, found a 27 percent lower incidence of prostate cancer in the low-fat diet group. Precancerous cells, which can go on to become cancer, also grew at a much slower rate in the mice eating a low-fat diet, compared to those in the high-fat group, the study showed.
Although the data come from mice, researchers say it’s reasonable to think the finding will translate to people. Further animal studies and human clinical trials are under way to study the issue. The theory is that lowering dietary fat results in an increase in levels of a protein that slows prostate cancer development by cutting off the growth factor that allows prostate cancer to thrive.
Although the verdict is still out on the link between fat and prostate cancer, researchers say there are already known benefits to lowering or eliminating processed baked goods and fried foods from the diet.
“A low-fat, high-fiber diet combined with weight loss and exercise is well known to be healthy in terms of heart disease and is known to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, so that would be a healthy choice to make,” said Dr. William Aronson, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and the study’s senior author. “Whether or not it will prevent prostate cancer in humans remains to be seen.
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