Category Archives: Prostate Cancer

High-Fat Diet, Especially High Saturated Fat, Increases Risk For Breast Cancer In Large Multicountry Study

Butter and knifeSeveral prominent news outlets have carried stories recently calling on us to eat more fat, especially more saturated fat, saying “fat is good for you.” Yet, in this large multicountry study, women who ate the most fat, and especially the most saturated fat, were more likely to develop breast cancer (BC) than women who ate the least:

Study: Dietary Fat Intake and Development of Specific Breast Cancer Subtypes, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 9 April 2014

Press Release: Consuming a high-fat diet is associated with increased risk of certain types of BC, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 9 April 2014

Researchers “prospectively analyzed data from 10,062 breast cancer (BC) patients from the EPIC study with 11.5 years of follow-up. The EPIC cohort study consisted of 337,327 women living in 10 European countries, which creates a heterogeneous cohort both in terms of geography-related dietary fat intake patterns and in terms of molecular subtype.”

The authors conclude, “a high-fat diet increases breast cancer risk and, most conspicuously, that high saturated fat intake increases risk of receptor-positive disease, suggesting saturated fat involvement in the etiology of receptor-positive breast cancer.”

News Summary: High-Fat Diet May Boost Breast Cancer Risk, Study Found Women Who Ate The Most Saturated Fat Were More Likely To Develop Tumors, HealthDay, 9 April 2014

One strength of the new study is its large numbers, said Mia Gaudet, director of genetic epidemiology at the American Cancer Society. The breast cancer subtypes linked with fat intake are common, she said. “The majority of breast cancers in the U.S. and Europe are ER-positive, PR-positive, HER2-negative,” she noted.

Lead author Sabina Sieri, PhD: It’s possible that the high-fat intake raises the levels of the body’s own estrogen, which can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.

Gaudet: “If you have a mainly plant-based diet, that is going to help you keep your fat intake low.”

So, dietary fat increases the risk for breast cancer. Yet Time Magazine’s Brian Walsh urges us to “Eat Butter” (7 grams of saturated fat in just 1 tablespoon) and New York Times’ Mark Bittman informs us that “Butter Is Back.” (“Butter is back, and when you’re looking for a few chunks of pork for a stew, you can resume searching for the best pieces — the ones with the most fat.”) Dietary fat has also been shown to increase the risk for prostate cancer. And we know it’s implicated in the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.  There must be some other motive working to push fat besides public health.

Harvard: “Dairy Food Is One Of The Most Consistent Predictors For Prostate Cancer In The Published Literature”

WolverineGotMilkI want to put that last study about dairy food and prostate cancer into perspective. It was a very new, not yet published case-control study:

Dairy Intake And Prostate Cancer Risk: Results From The California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study, Abstract PD31-06

Data from 2953 cases and controls were analyzed. From MedPageToday:

“Compared with men who reported rarely or never drinking milk, low intake was associated with a 33% increase in the odds of advanced prostate cancer, increasing to 43% among men reporting high intake (P=0.037 for trend).”

Let’s contrast that with the findings of the Physician’s Health Study:

Dairy Products, Calcium, And Prostate Cancer Risk In The Physicians’ Health Study, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2001

It found a 34% increased risk for prostate cancer for men consuming more than 2.5 servings of dairy per day, compared with men consuming less than a half serving, and concluded:

“These results support the hypothesis that dairy products and calcium are associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer.”

Here’s an excerpt from a Harvard Health Publication on diet and prostate cancer:

“A diet high in dairy products has also been implicated as a risk factor for prostate cancer, and this relationship may have little to do with fat. In nine separate studies, the strongest and most consistent dietary factor linked with prostate cancer was high consumption of milk or dairy products. In the largest of these, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, men who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were almost twice as likely to develop advanced or metastatic (spreading) prostate cancer as those who didn’t drink milk at all.”
– Prostate Disease: Finding the Cause and Cure, a Harvard Health Publications Special Health report (2003)

Here’s a 2001 Harvard review of the body of evidence at that time on dairy intake and prostate cancer:

Dairy Products, Calcium, and Vitamin D and Risk of Prostate Cancer, Epidemiological Reviews, 2001

“Seven of 14 case-control and five of nine cohort studies have reported statistically significant positive associations between some aspect of dairy intake and prostate cancer risk. Overall, 12 of the 14 case-control studies and seven of the nine cohort studies observed a positive association for some measure of dairy products and prostate cancer; this is one of the most consistent dietary predictors for prostate cancer in the published literature.”

So, this recent study isn’t unique, it just adds to the large and growing body of evidence linking dairy food to prostate cancer. Why do you suppose this isn’t common knowledge?

High Carb, High Fiber, No Dairy: All Linked To Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

ProstateGraphic2Here are three abstracts from this year’s American Urological Association meeting. All of them provide evidence for eating a whole food, plant-based diet to reduce the risk for prostate cancer.

(To read the abstract, visit the  abstract search page and enter the PD number in the “Publication Number” field.)

1. Carbohydrate Intake, Glycemic Index, And Prostate Cancer Risk, Abstract PD31-11.

This study analyzed data from 430 veterans’ medical records. Those eating the most carbohydrate had up to a 75% lower risk for prostate cancer compared with those eating the least. High fiber intake was also associated with a significant reduction in prostate cancer. Interestingly, these researchers conducted this study because they thought that a high-carbohydrate diet was a risk factor for prostate cancer. They found the opposite.

“Conclusions: Among men consuming a Western diet, our findings suggest higher carbohydrate intake and thereby lower intake of other macronutrients (i.e. protein and fat) may be associated with reduced risk of overall [prostate cancer] and both low- and high-grade [prostate cancer]. … When examining the [glycemic index] of the diet, there was no association.”

2. Dairy Intake And Prostate Cancer Risk: Results From The California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study, Abstract PD31-06

Data from 2953 cases and controls were analyzed. From MedPageToday: “Compared with men who reported rarely or never drinking milk, low intake was associated with a 33% increase in the odds of advanced prostate cancer, increasing to 43% among men reporting high intake (P=0.037 for trend).”

“Conclusions: These finding suggest that even though most of the putative effect of dairy products on [prostate cancer] risk seems to be explained by calcium, among men with overall low levels of calcium from diet and supplements, high intake of dairy products seems to have a separate effect, suggesting additional components in dairy that may contribute to prostate cancer development.”

3. Metabolic Syndrome Components And Prostate Cancer Risk: Results From The REDUCE Study, Abstract PD31-01

This study analyzed data from 6,426 men who took part in the REDUCE trial (Avodart/dutasteride vs. placebo, Avodart is used for BPH). Men with two components of the Metabolic Syndrome had a 35% increased risk for prostate cancer; men with 3 or more components had a 94% increased risk.

Metabolic Syndrome consists of these 5 components. Having 3 or more means you likely have Metabolic Syndrome, and now, apparently, a higher risk for prostate cancer:

  • Abdominal obesity (high waist circumference)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated triglycerides
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Elevated fasting glucose

“Conclusions: Men with multiple [Metabolic Syndrome] components may be at higher risk of being diagnosed specifically with high-grade [prostate cancer].”

If the claims made by low-carb enthusiasts are true … that eating a low-carbohydrate, high-fat, high-protein, high animal food diet lowers the risk for cancer, why do so many studies point to the opposite?

Taking Vitamin E Supplements Increases The Risk For Prostate Cancer

Note that this Vitamin E, the same type and strength used in this study that found taking it increased the risk for prostate cancer, is USP Verified. Less than 1% of dietary supplements are USP Verified. USP does not, however, vouch for a product’s safety or efficacy. The FDA doesn’t either. No regulatory body does.

People are still taking vitamin E supplements, either separately or as part of a multivitamin pill. They should know that this landmark study:

Vitamin E and the Risk of Prostate Cancer, The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), Journal of the American Medical Association, 12 October 2011

… found:

“Conclusion: Dietary supplementation with vitamin E significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men.”

The study was big (35,533 men from 427 study sites in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico), and long (7 years: 2004 to 2011). It was designed to test whether taking vitamin E or selenium would prevent prostate cancer. Epidemiological studies suggested they might. Neither were found to prevent prostate cancer. And in the case of vitamin E, just 400 IU’s/day were found, to many people’s surprise, to increase the risk. The increased risk was statistically significant.

“Results: This report includes 54 464 additional person-years of follow-up and 521 additional cases of prostate cancer since the primary report. Compared with the placebo (referent group) in which 529 men developed prostate cancer, 620 men in the vitamin E group developed prostate cancer (hazard ratio [HR], 1.17; 99% CI, 1.004-1.36, P = .008).”

“The risk of prostate cancer at 7 years of median follow-up was increased by 17% in men randomized to supplementation with vitamin E alone, a difference that started to appear about 3 years after randomization. … The increased rate of prostate cancer in the vitamin E group was seen as early as 2006 and continued until the present analysis (HRs ranged from 1.12 to 1.17) suggesting that the current results are not an outlier observation due to multiple looks at the data.

Despite the lack of a mechanistic explanation, the findings show that vitamin E supplementation in the general population of healthy men significantly increases the risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

This study only looked at prostate cancer. It couldn’t comment on other cancers. And it also couldn’t say if lesser doses were safe. 400 IU’s raises the risk for prostate cancer, but does 200 IU’s? 50 IUs? The following excerpt is going to hinder future studies that try to answer those questions:

“Furthermore, the fact that the increased risk of prostate cancer in the vitamin E group of participants in SELECT was only apparent after extended follow-up (allowing for additional events) suggests that health effects from these agents may continue even after the intervention is stopped.”

You could draw many assumptions from a study like this, and none of them, given this data, would support taking vitamin E supplements.

But this doesn’t stop people from taking vitamin E, “just to be safe” or “as an insurance policy against when I don’t eat right” or “to top off” their diet.  They say taking vitamins doesn’t do any harm and could help.  How do they know there is no harm?  And where is the evidence that these pills help us live longer? Or in better health?

I just came from Dr. Weil’s site, where he continues to advise taking 400 to 800 IUs vitamin E daily and says (as of 29 October 2012, a year after this study was published), in response to the question, “Are there any risks associated with too much vitamin E?” … “Except for an anticoagulant effect, vitamin E has no known toxicity or side effects.”

See my related post: Folic Acid Supplements Increase The Risk For Cancer, Especially Lung Cancer