What you eat can increase risk of aggressive prostate cancer – study

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Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in the UK. It accounts for around 52,000 diagnoses every year, and 12,000 deaths. Although it is not known exactly what causes the disease to develop, there are a number of factors thought to raise the risk.

And now research has shown that what you eat could increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer almost threefold.

A study, published in BJU International, found men who consumed junk food and fizzy drinks were more prone to life threatening-tumours.

Lead author Doctor Adela Castello-Pastor, of the Carlos III Institute of Health in Madrid, said: “Our results indicate avoiding unhealthy dietary habits could be the best nutritional strategy to prevent aggressive prostate cancer.”

As part of the research 15,296 Spanish participants were tracked for an average of 17 years.

Those who ate a Western-style diet were most likely to develop tumours that spread to other organs. Incidence rose between two and nearly threefold.

The Western dietary pattern consisted of a high intake of high-fat dairy products, processed meat, refined grains, sweets, caloric drinks, convenience food and sauces and a low intake of low-fat dairy products and whole grains.

Dr Catello-Pastor explained: “Also total and saturated fats and trans fatty acids from red and processed meats, sweets, sauces and convenience food, are suspected to enhance prostate cancer progression through the disruption of hormonal regulation.

“They increase oxidative stress that impairs the repair of DNA damage and lead to inflammation that increases cellular proliferation.

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“Also, many compounds that are naturally present or generated when cooking or processing red meat or other products might affect prostate cancer risk by catalysing free radical formation and suppressing the expression of genes involved in cell cycle progression and DNA repair in prostate cancer cells.

“Finally, the high energy profile of the Western dietary pattern contributes to increased body composition, the most important known modifiable risk factor for prostate cancer.”

Just over 600 prostate cancer cases were diagnosed during the follow up period.

The other two diets included were categorised as prudent or Mediterranean.

The prudent dietary pattern was characterised by a high intake of low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and juices.

While the Mediterranean dietary pattern represented a high intake of fish, vegetables, legumes, boiled potatoes, fruits, olives, and vegetable oil, and a low intake of juices.

Although adhering to a healthy diet such as the prudent and Mediterranean was not enough to prevent prostate cancer, according to the study, it reduced the risk of the most aggressive forms.

Milk and other dairy foods were found to suppress production of prostate cancer fighting chemicals, Dr Catello-Pastor said.

Previously several studies have shown a link between eating vegetables and a reduced risk of prostate cancer, but results have not been consistent.

This is the first to specifically look at the deadliest tumours.

Symptoms of prostate cancer often do not appear in its early stages but if the disease progresses it can cause:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently, often during the night
  • Needing to rush to the toilet
  • Difficulty in starting to urinate
  • Straining or taking a long time while urinating
  • Weak flow
  • Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
  • Blood in urine or blood in semen
  • Bone and back pain
  • A loss of appetite
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Unintentional weight loss.

If you think you could have prostate cancer, you should speak to your GP.

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