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July 2013

Healthy Dietary Fats May Reduce Mortality in Men With Prostate Cancer

Men who have prostate cancer that has not spread to other body parts (nonmetastatic) may reduce their risk of all-cause mortality by choosing vegetable fats in their diet, a study reports.

Prostate cancer is the uncontrollable growth of cells in the prostate gland. The prostate is part of a man's reproductive system, and is located in front of the rectum and under the bladder. Prostate tumors are masses of prostate cells. Prostate tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors in the prostate are rarely life-threatening. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the abnormal growth of benign prostate cells. The prostate grows larger and squeezes the urethra, preventing the normal flow of urine. BPH is a very common problem worldwide. Malignant or cancerous tumors of the prostate are generally more serious than benign tumors and may be life threatening. Malignant tumors can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, liver, bones, colon, and other organs.

In the current study, researchers set out to determine whether men with prostate cancer may reduce mortality risk by substituting vegetable fats for animal fats in their diet. They looked at information from 4,577 men with nonmetastatic prostate cancer who had participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2010. Information on the subjects' intake of saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, trans, animal and vegetable fats following prostate cancer diagnosis was collected. The researchers also analyzed data on lethal prostate cancer and all-cause mortality.

A total of 315 deaths from prostate cancer and 1,064 all-cause deaths occurred during the eight-year follow-up. The results suggested that replacing 10 percent of energy intake from carbohydrates with vegetable fat appeared to be associated with a lower risk of lethal prostate cancer, as well as reduced all-cause mortality. The researchers reported that saturated and trans fats consumption after diagnosis appeared to be linked to higher all-cause mortality.

The authors concluded that men who have nonmetastatic prostate cancer may reduce their risk of all-cause mortality by replacing carbohydrates and animal fat with vegetable fat. More research is needed to confirm these findings.

Many integrative therapies have been studied for possible benefits in prostate cancer. There is good scientific evidence supporting the use of selenium in preventing the development of prostate cancer.

For more information about prostate cancer, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Chavarro JE, et al. Fat Intake After Diagnosis and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer and All-Cause Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Jun 10:1-8. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6536. 

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