A diet consisting primarily of refined grain products and processed and red meats increases men’s risk of developing prostate cancer, according to Canadian researchers.* These findings confirm and expand on the results of the Health Professionals Follow-up and Physicians’ Health studies, which demonstrated the relationship between prostate cancer and intake of dietary fat and red meat, while complementing myriad studies establishing the protective effects of diets rich in vegetables.
The study enrolled 414 men, including 80 with primary prostate cancer and 314 controls matched for age, body mass index, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle characteristics (such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and physical activity). All subjects completed a questionnaire on how often they consumed 67 food and beverage items during the previous two years.
Four dietary patterns emerged among the participants, which were designated as: 1) Healthy Living, consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and poultry; 2) Traditional Western, including red and processed meats, milk, sweets, and hard liquor; 3) Processed Diet, characterized by red and processed meats, organ meats, refined grains, white bread, onions and tomatoes, vegetable oils, juices, and soft drinks; and 4) Beverages, comprising tap water, soft drinks, fruit juices, potatoes, and poultry.
Although not statistically significant, the Healthy Living and Beverages dietary patterns were associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer, while the Traditional Western diet was associated with a higher risk. The Processed Diet pattern, however, was strongly and positively associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. This dietary pattern is likely to contain heterocyclic and polycyclic aromatic amines formed during the cooking and preservation of meat. Moreover, there was a dose-dependent relationship between the Processed Diet pattern and prostate cancer risk, with the highest levels of consumption associated with a nearly threefold greater risk.
—Linda M. Smith, RN