Based on an article titled “Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and grade group progression in localized prostate cancer: An active surveillance cohort”
Originally written by Gregg et al., 2021
Can a diet, specifically the Mediterranean diet, affect a person suffering from prostate cancer in a positive way? What we eat has a huge impact on our health and so it is only natural to ask ourselves if a healthy diet might help those suffering from cancer, in this case specifically prostate cancer. The Mediterranean diet has been commonly seen as extremely healthy, but is it enough to help with the sufferer of prostate cancer? Indeed, this diet is recommended, especially for those in early-stage prostate cancer - with some cautions, which are discussed more in depth below.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a form of cancer occurring in a person assigned male at birth's (AMAB) prostate- a small walnut-shaped gland that produces seminal fluid. It is common cancer in people AMAB and is a global burden that requires lifestyle changes.1
Studies suggest that nearly half of the people diagnosed after a prostate exam have cancerous cells that grow at a slower rate and require active surveillance.2
The current treatment for this type of cancer can cause a decline in quality of life, urinary function and sexual function. Therefore, it is essential to identify risk factors that a person can act upon to reduce prostate cancer disease progression.
The Mediterranean Diet & Prostate Cancer
Changes in dietary habits have been suggested as a way to reduce prostate cancer progression, particularly a Mediterranean diet. This diet was investigated to see whether it can benefit those with prostate cancer on active surveillance.
The diet is composed of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and fish, small amounts of dairy and meat, and moderate amounts of alcohol. This translates into a good balance of healthy fats from nuts, olive oil and seeds, and solid fats from butter and meats. Studies suggest a strong link between the Mediterranean diet and anti-inflammatory effects in the body.3
Some studies have shown that people who stick to a Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop prostate cancer.4 In addition, the anti-inflammatory properties help to inhibit the tumour environment and prevent progression.5
This particular study by Gregg et al.6 supports previous studies on the Mediterranean diet. They found that consistently following a diet rich in fish and plant-based food, with a balance of healthy fats, may help those diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early stages. In addition, it was found that statins used to treat diabetes (medicines that are prescribed to help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol) may interact with some products within the Mediterranean diet. However, this would require further investigation as few participants with diabetes and prostate cancer on a Mediterranean diet were involved in the study.6
In conclusion, the study highlights the importance of following the Mediterranean style diet for people AMAB with early-stage prostate cancer. It offers multiple benefits of reducing the chances of progression of the disease, whereby active treatment is not required. Despite the potential adverse effects diabetes and statins may have on people on this diet, the benefits outweigh the harm. Furthermore, it is suggested that people AMAB should always stick to a healthy Mediterranean style diet before and after a prostate cancer diagnosis. Future studies can help in providing concrete evidence and clarification.
- Cuzick J, Thorat MA, Andriole G, Brawley OW, Brown PH, Culig Z, et al. Prevention and early detection of prostate cancer. The Lancet Oncology 2014;15: e484–92. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(14)70211-6.
- Cooperberg MR, Carroll PR. Trends in Management for Patients With Localized Prostate Cancer, 1990-2013. JAMA 2015;314:80–2. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2015.6036.
- Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, Covas M-I, Corella D, Arós F, et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts. New England Journal of Medicine 2018: 378:e34 https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1800389.
- Castelló A, Boldo E, Amiano P, Castaño-VG, Aragonés N, Gómez-AI, et al. Mediterranean Dietary Pattern is Associated with Low Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer: MCC-Spain Study. Journal of Urology 2018;199:430-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.juro.2017.08.087.
- Fernandes JV, Cobucci RNO, Jatobá CAN, de Medeiros Fernandes TAA, de Azevedo JWV, de Araújo JMG. The Role of the Mediators of Inflammation in Cancer Development. Pathol Oncol Res 2015;21:527-34. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12253-015-9913-z.
- Gregg JR, Zhang X, Chapin BF, Ward JF, Kim J, Davis JW, et al. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and grade group progression in localized prostate cancer: An active surveillance cohort. Cancer 2021;127:720-8. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33182.