In a previous post, we talked about how omega-3 fatty acids—as beneficial as they are in many ways—have been shown to increase prostate cancer risk, especially of the most aggressive and deadly forms. But other types of fats, including avocados, nuts, olive and vegetable oils (especially canola), and seeds, have precisely the opposite effect: they may reduce prostate cancer risk in men who don’t have it, and my greatly improve the odds of surviving if they already have it.
Researcher Erin L. Richman of the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues, studied almost 4.600 men with non-metastatic prostate cancer (meaning it hadn’t spread beyond the prostate). The team found that by making a pretty simple change in their diet—replacing carbohydrates and animal fats with vegetable fats—these men appeared to have drastically reduced their risk of developing lethal prostate cancer and of dying from other causes as well.
“Consumption of healthy oils and nuts increases plasma antioxidants and reduces insulin and inflammation, which may deter prostate cancer progression,” said Richman. “The beneficial effects of unsaturated fats and harmful effects of saturated and trans fats on cardiovascular health are well known,” she added. “Now our research has shown additional potential benefits of consuming unsaturated fats among men with prostate cancer.”
According to a UCSF press release, the study “adjusted for factors such as age, types of medical treatment, body mass index, smoking, exercise and other dietary factors, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis and other health conditions.”
The best news of all is that the dietary changes are extremely minor. For example, the study found that by replacing just 10 percent of the total calories they’re getting from carbohydrates reduced the risk of developing lethal prostate cancer by nearly 30%, and reduced the risk of any kind of death by 26%. To put that into more perspective, we’re talking about adding one tablespoon of oil-based dressing or adding an ounce of nuts every day.
“Overall, our findings support counseling men with prostate cancer to follow a heart-healthy diet in which carbohydrate calories are replaced with unsaturated oils and nuts to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality,” said Richman. She offered a number of suggestions that may make a huge difference in the quality and length of your life, things like replacing a ham sandwich with a peanut butter sandwich, or, if you’re already eating a peanut butter sandwich, make it open face (only one slice of bread).