Prostate cancer patients on high-fat diets are 4x more likely to die

Prostate cancer patients who eat high-fat diets and red meat are four times more likely to die – but a vegetarian intervention could slow or stop the disease in its tracks, study finds

  • Researchers at McGill University studied a gene involved in progressing prostate cancer (known as MYC)
  • They found it is fueled by fatty foods and red meat, regardless of a patient’s age or obesity status 

Men who eat steaks, burgers, and pizza have a higher risk of prostate cancer than their vegan peers, a new study claims.

In fact, those diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer may be able to delay or even prevent the disease from progressing using diet alone.

That’s according to researchers at McGill University, who found that a gene involved in progressing prostate cancer (known as MYC) is fueled by fatty foods and red meat.

A study found saturated fats in meat and fries fuel the expression of a gene involved in progressing prostate cancer (file image)

The study, published last week in Nature Communications, involved genetic data from 319 patients with prostate cancer.  

They found that, regardless of their age or obesity status, those with high consumption of fats had higher levels of MYC, and had a more aggressive form of cancer by many measures. 

Pooling the data, they found patients were four times more likely to die of prostate cancer if they had high levels of MYC fueled by fat consumption. 

They tested their theory in a mouse model and saw the same effect, and found that a dietary intervention – cutting out meats and saturated fat – slowed and even stopped the disease in its tracks.

‘MYC over-expression profoundly rewires cellular programs and bolsters a distinctive transcriptional signature,’ David P. Labbé, assistant professor in the surgery department of the urology division at McGill University.

‘MYC is a key factor in tumorigenesis, i.e., it induces malignant properties in normal cells and fuels the growth of cancer cells.’

The findings add to a hefty history of research showing the prostate cancer rates are higher in countries that consume a typically ‘Western diet’ of red meat and fats. 

‘Epidemiological studies have previously reported that saturated fat intake is associated with prostate cancer progression,’ Labbé said.

‘Our study provides a mechanistic underpinning to this link and a basis to develop clinical tools aimed at reducing the consumption of saturated fat and increasing the odds of surviving.’

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