Scientists from New York University and elsewhere found that eating a healthy plant-based diet is linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States.
Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly and finding and treating it before symptoms occur may not improve men’s health or help them live longer.
Plant-based diets are associated with many health benefits and a positive environmental impact.
For prostate cancer, previous studies suggest a beneficial role of specific plant-based foods (e.g., tomatoes) and a potentially harmful role of specific animal-based foods (e.g., meat, dairy).
However, how plant-based dietary patterns affect the risk of prostate cancer is still unclear.
In the current study, researchers sought to examine the link between plant-based diet indices and prostate cancer risk.
The team used data from more than 47,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2014).
Overall and healthful plant-based diet indices were calculated from food questionaries.
The team found among the 47,239 men, 6655 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer over follow-up, including 515 with advanced-stage disease at diagnosis, 956 with lethal disease (metastasis or death), and 806 prostate cancer deaths.
Greater plant-based intake was linked to a much lower risk of fatal prostate cancer. In men aged younger than 65, a higher plant-based diet index was linked to a lower risk of advanced, lethal, and fatal prostate cancer.
Moreover, greater intake of a healthful plant-based diet was linked to lower risks of total and lethal prostate cancer at ages younger than 65.
The team found there were no associations between overall or healthful plant-based diet indices with prostate cancer among men aged 65 and older.
In addition, fewer than 1% of participants followed a strict vegetarian or vegan diet.
Based on these findings, the team concludes that this study provides supportive evidence that greater intake of healthful plant-based foods is linked to a lower risk of aggressive forms of prostate cancer, with stronger benefits among men aged younger than 65.
The research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and conducted by Stacy Loeb et al.
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