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Just this week, my favorite weather forecaster Mr. Al Roker announce he is battling prostate cancer.  The American Cancer Society reports the three major risk factors for developing prostate cancer are race, age, and genetics.    African American’s mortality rate is twice that of Caucasians and, the overall average age of diagnosis is 66. Men who are older than or equal to 65 are 14 times more likely to develop prostate cancer than men less than 65. Also, it is rare to find prostate cancer in men under 40 years of age.  Genetics, as with all things, plays an important role. Having a family history of prostate cancer increases the probability of development.    Thus far, there are approximately 191,930 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States this year.   Although serious, rarely does the disease cause death. According to the American Cancer Society, 3.1 million men are living with the diagnosis of Prostate Cancer.

The exact cause of Prostate Cancer is unknown; however, scientists speculate that obesity as a result of the American diet plays a crucial role in developing the disease.  Both diet and obesity are factors that we can undoubtedly reverse or change to reduce the chances of developing Prostate Cancer.  Let’s explore the fatty facts of prostate cancer.

Data demonstrates Prostate Cancer risk increases with obesity.  According to the American Cancer Association, for overweight men having a BMI of less than 30, the additional risk is 8%.  For those individuals with a BMI of >30 (Obesity), the risk jumps to 20%. For men who are severely obese with a BMI of >40 chance of developing prostate cancer increase by 34%. The type of foods consumes plays a direct effect on weight.  Excess calories naturally result in weight gain and, ultimately, obesity.  Foods high in Fat provide the highest number of calories and thus is a leading contributor to obesity.  It is noteworthy to know that research shows that dietary fat consumption is the link between obesity and prostate cancer. It is worth exploring what specific types of dietary fats play a contributing role in Prostate Cancer.

Evidence-based research demonstrates that the type of Fats increases the risk of Prostate Cancer; however, all fats are not the same.  The various classification of Fats is Saturated, Polyunsaturated Mono-unsaturated, and Trans.  In a previous blog post, you can find information regarding the types and characteristics of fats entitled “Those Sassy Fatty Acids.” A study in J. Natl. Cancer Inst. Reports that the total amount of Fat in saturated fat intake did show an increase in the risk of advanced prostate cancer.  Another study confirms that dietary Fat, specifically animal and saturated fats as much as 40% of total fat intake, is associated with increased prostate cancer risk.   However, fats in olive oil or avocado oils, and Omega-3  in salmon and fish, will not increase the risk of developing Prostate cancer.   Some studies report Omega-3 fatty acids may have a protective shield.

In conclusion, as evidence-based research shows, a decrease in overall fat intake will lessen the risk of development and or progression of prostate cancer.   Also, consuming as much as 40% of your total fat intake per day in saturated fats increases prostate cancer risk.  Please consider reducing or eliminating the following saturated fats in your daily meal plan does decrease your risk for developing Prostate Cancer:

  • Red Meat: Beef, Pork, Lamb
  • Butter
  • Ice Cream/Cream
  • Lard/tallow
  • Cheese
  • Coconut and palm oil
  • Cocoa butter

Consider adopting/choosing a new way of eating, such as the Mediterranean format style, rich in fruits and vegetables.  Overall, the diet provides other prostate cancer-protective nutrients such as the phytochemicals in tomatoes-lycopene and the phytonutrients hidden in cruciferous vegetables.  The diet is high in various fish providing rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and consequently low in saturated fats (red meats).

The Fatty Facts of Prostate Cancer:  Dietary consumption of Fats related to obesity refers directly to the risk of the development and progression of Prostate Cancer. Other risk factors such as race, genetics, and age we cannot alter or change.   However, risk factors such as diet, what and how we eat are behaviors we all can change; it is your choice.  Choose wisely.