Prostate Cancer: Eating a “Complete” Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk Significantly

One of the most faithful dietary recommendations of recent times is Mediterranean diet, which has been positioned as one of the most powerful dietary guidelines to benefit health, prevent disease and live longer. The truth is that one of the greatest benefits of the Mediterranean diet is its powerful effects to fight different types of cancer and one of the main ones is the prostate one. Recently, the findings of a report published in The Journal of Urology, which confirm the benefits of following a “complete Mediterranean diet” as an effective and sustainable strategy in the prevention of prostate cancer, are striking.

According to statements by the main researcher, Dr. Beatriz Pérez-Gómez, from the Carlos III Health Institute of the University of Alcalá, in Spain: when suggesting a diet to prevent progressive prostate cancer, the Mediterranean scheme. In which should be included key elements such as fatty fish, legumes and olive oilThis is because their results “suggest that a high intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may not be enough.”

Considering the increase in prostate cancer cases in the United States and the world, prevention measures are worth taking. The numbers don’t lie: with about 1.4 million cases and an estimated 375,000 deaths annually worldwide. Prostate cancer occurs due to uncontrolled growth of cells in the prostate, which is a gland in the male reproductive organs that produces a fluid that is part of semen. It is located just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that urine passes through as it leaves the body.

The truth is that in the United States after skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common in men. Represents 1 in 10 cases. Conditions in the prostate are usually related to age, therefore it is not uncommon that as men age they present some alterations such as prostate growth known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or an enlarged prostate, it is not cancerous. There are also other non-cancerous conditions that can cause changes in the prostate, however when these conditions are neglected they can increase the risk of cancer and if we add bad eating habits to this the result can be fatal.

What did the study consist of? The research examined data from a case-control study of 733 men with prostate cancer and 1,229 healthy men. The average age of the men, who came from seven different parts of Spain, was 66 years. The study collected a variety of data that included not only medical and background information, but also details about your eating habits. The researchers divided the participants into three groups according to the dietary pattern that best matched their eating habits. The dietary patterns, which are the most common in Spain, were “Westerners, prudent and Mediterranean.”

In the western diet, the pattern includes a high intake of fatty dairy products, processed meats, fast food, refined cereals, sweets, sauces, and high-calorie beverages. The prudent dietary pattern includes low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and juices. While the typical characteristics of the Mediterranean pattern defined by the study were based on a high intake of fish, fruits, vegetables, boiled potatoes, legumes and olive oil, with low levels of intake of juices rich in sugar.

The researchers gave each dietary pattern four adherence categories, ranging from low to high. For men diagnosed with prostate cancer, the team categorized the aggressiveness of the disease based on your Gleason score and clinical stage. They then compared adherence patterns in men with prostate cancer and men who were healthy. And the findings were overwhelming, the scientists found that only one “High adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern” was significantly associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer with aggressive and extensive tumors. It is worth mentioning that no link of any kind was found in the other dietary patterns.

There is another reference to a more recent study that is worth mentioning. A prospective research work carried out to 410 men on active surveillance for newly diagnosed Gleason grade (GG) 1 or 2 PCa group, by experts from the University of Texas at Houston. Justin G. Gregg, the study’s lead author, and colleagues found that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk of GG progression. As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that the Gleason scoring system refers to what cancer cells look like in the prostate and how likely the cancer is to advance and spread. A lower Gleason score means the cancer is slow-growing and non-aggressive..

The findings were overwhelming, those men on active surveillance for localized prostate cancer, who followed a Mediterranean-style diet decreased the risk of disease progression. Based on this, the researchers recapitulated the basic principles that characterize a Mediterranean diet, among which the emphasis on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, cereals and fish stands out; in complement with a low / limited intake of meat and dairy foods. It is also a scheme that allows a moderate intake of alcohol and a healthy balance of monounsaturated fats in relation to saturated fats.

A bit about the numbers: the study performed adjusted analyzes, in which each 1-unit increase in the Mediterranean diet score was associated with a 12% decrease in the risk of GG progression overall and a 36% and 18% decrease in risk among non-white men and men without diabetes, respectively.

Therefore the study findings suggest that consistently following a diet rich in plant-based foods, fish, and a healthy balance of monounsaturated fats may be beneficial for men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer. One of the main reasons for the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet lies in the exceptional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties provided by all the foods it promotes. These powerful elements create the perfect combination to collectively support a systemic and tumor environment that inhibits progression.

Undoubtedly one more goodness to add to the long list of wonders that are related to the Mediterranean diet. Best of all, it’s about a lifestyle inspired by local traditions, customs, recipes and ingredients, which invite balance and enjoyment of life.

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