After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, men who eat a diet high in vegetable fats, such as those in nuts and olive oil, may be less likely to have their disease spread, a new study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine suggests.
Researchers found that replacing some carbohydrates with those healthy fats was also tied to a lower risk of dying from any cause during the study. But the opposite was true for saturated and trans fats often found in meat and processed foods.
Researchers tracked 4,577 men who were diagnosed with localized prostate cancer during a large study of health workers beginning in 1986.
Men who reported getting the highest proportion of their daily calories from vegetable fat – more than 21 percent – after their diagnosis were about one-third less likely to die during the study than those who ate the least vegetable fat. And they had a borderline lower risk of developing lethal cancer.
On the other hand, men who ate a similar amount of animal fat tended to be more likely to die during follow up, from prostate cancer or anything else, than those who skimped on animal meat.
Erin Richman of the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues found that switching 10 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates to vegetable fat was linked to a 29 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer and a 26 percent lower chance of dying from any cause. But replacing 5 percent of those calories with saturated fat, or just 1 percent with trans fat, was tied to a 25 to 30 percent higher risk of death during the study period.
Researchers suspect that replacing refined carbohydrates with things like olive oil and nuts may reduce inflammation in the body, thereby making it harder for cancer to spread.
The American Cancer Society estimates about one in six U.S. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, and one in 36 will die of the disease.