According to a study lead by a team of researchers at Jonsson Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, a diet high in unhealthy types of fats is a potential cause of prostatic diseases, which includes benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer.
The researchers focused on mice that were fed a diet high in fat from corn oil. Corn oil is primarily comprised of omega-6 fatty acids, which is the type of polyunsaturated fat found in processed baked goods and fried foods. This type of fat should not be confused with omega-3 fatty acids, which are the healthiest fats and are found in fish, or monounsaturated fats, which are found in almonds, pecans, cashew nuts, peanuts, avocados, olive oil, and canola oil.
In the study, researchers fed one group of mice a diet with 40 percent of calories coming from fat, which is similar to the amount found in a typical Western diet. The second group of mice received 12 percent of their caloric intake from fat. The results showed a 27 percent lower incidence of prostate cancer in the low-fat diet group. Further, precancerous cells grew at a much slower rate in the low-fat diet group, compared to those in the high-fat group.
In a supplemental study, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, MS, PhD, and colleagues found that high-fat diets actually activate a protein complex which leads to prostatic inflammation. The researchers noted that when non-obese mice were fed a high-fat diet for four, eight, and 12 weeks, they exhibited significant increases in the protein complex activation, prostate weight, and prostate expression of inflammation when compared with mice that were fed a regular diet.
While most of the information has come from mice studies, researchers say that the finding translates to people. Human clinical trials will be following shortly to prove that lowering dietary fat intake results in an increase in levels of a protein that slows prostate cancer development by reducing the amount of growth factor that encourages prostate cancer.
“A low-fat, high-fiber diet combined with weight loss and exercise is well known to be healthy in terms of heart disease and is known to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, so that would be a healthy choice to make,” said Dr. William Aronson, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and the UCLA study’s senior author. “Whether or not it will prevent prostate cancer in humans remains to be seen.”