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Two research articles from the Physicians’ Health Study revealed that the Western diet, which is high in saturated fat, dairy, red meat, and , significantly increases the risk of death from prostate cancer and all-cause mortality (death from any cause). A plant-based, low-dairy diet can help men increase their life expectancy despite a prostate cancer diagnosis.
These authors all studied the same group of 926 men, all of whom were members of thePhysicians’ Health Study and had been diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer. They completed regular diet questionnaires over a span of 10 years.The first paper examined the link between diet, prostate cancer, and all-cause mortality.The authors looked at two kinds of diet:
Prudent pattern: higher intake of vegetables, fruits, fish, legumes, and whole grains
Western pattern: higher intake of processed and red meats, high-fat dairy and refined grains.
The Western pattern significantly increased the risk of prostate-cancer–specific and all-cause mortality.
The second paper looked at just dairy connection with prostate cancer and all cause mortality. The authors found that men consuming three or more servings per day of dairy products had a 76% higher risk of total mortality and a 141% higher risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality compared to men who consumed less than one dairy product per day.The association between high-fat dairy and mortality risk appeared to be stronger than that of low-fat dairy, but the difference between them was not statistically significant.
My Take on Diet, Dairy, and Prostate Cancer
I work with dietary lifestyle and prostate cancer virtually everyday of my life, so this news is not surprising. It just confirms my belief that, when working with patients to improve their longevity and quality-of-life, nutrition is real medicine. It’s exactly what Hippocrates said two thousand years ago: “let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.”Why do we forget this? One reason is because medical schools are lacking in nutrition classes.
The other reason is financial. In our current medical system, physicians actually lose money when they talk to any patient for more than 12 minutes. Medical reimbursements are only substantial when performing procedures, prostate biopsies, cystoscopy, coronary stents, etc.This is not a critique of physicians as much as one on the medical system which fails to promote discussions of lifestyle and dietary choices between doctors and their patients.
What Should You do?
Eating well all the time is hard, I know. I live in this world, too, and it’s not any easier for me. My fifteen years of research on lifestyle and prostate cancer tells me that eating well to prevent or survive prostate cancer is not an all-or-nothing scenario.In other words, the harm is in the amount. Scientists call this a “dose-response relationship.”Notice the dairy research observed a higher mortality rate in those men who consumed more than 3 servings for dairy.
One serving of dairy equals 8 ounces of milk or about 2 ounces of cheese.
That means that a little milk in your coffee in the morning isn’t a problem, unless you’re pouring in a whole glass.Besides, if you are aware of the specific amount at which it becomes “too much,” you’remore likely to stick to the plan, no?The real issue here is that most people “can’t have just one.”You know yourself. If you can’t keep yourself from eating excessive low-level foods,then consider abstaining from low-level cancer-causing foods altogether. And yes, you can do it.These “low-level” foods are those on the lower end of the CaPLESS 1 to 5 scale:
A very brief summary
1–2 foods: all refined carbohydrates, fruit juices (not fruits), well-done meats, non-grass-fed meats.
4–5 foods: all vegetables, especially broccoli, cauliflower, almost all fruits whole, natural grains. Dirty dozen foods are only in this category when they’re organic.
Yang, M., Kenfield, S. A., Van Blarigan, E. L., Batista, J. L., Sesso, H. D., Ma, J., . . .Chavarro, J. E. (2015). Dietary Patterns after Prostate Cancer Diagnosis in Relation to Disease-Specific and Total Mortality. Cancer Prevention Research, 8(6), 545-551. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.capr-14-0442
Yang, M., Kenfield, S. A., Van Blarigan, E. L., Wilson, K. M., Batista, J. L., Sesso, H. D., . . . Chavarro, J. E. (2015). Dairy intake after prostate cancer diagnosis in relation to disease-specific and total mortality. Int J Cancer. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29608
Image Source: http://www.cancer.gov/images/cdr/live/CDR450023.jpg