Prostate cancer and dietary fat intake, are they really connected?


Prostate cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer worldwide. According to a study conducted by Katie M. Di Sebastiano and Marina Mourtzakis and published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), in 2012, 1.1 million cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed worldwide, but only 307.000 deaths were associated to this cause.

In countries like Colombia, prostate cancer is the most common cancer type in men and the third cause of death. According to the Colombian League Against Cancer, around 9.564 new cases are diagnosed annually in the country and almost a third part of them lead to death. Over the past five years, there has been an incidence of 28.076 cases in the country and projections assume that over the age of 50, one out of six men will develop the disease.

Industrialization and rapid economic growth in modern times has led to a shift in the burden of disease worldwide. Increasingly, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are becoming the major cause of death and Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) in lower income countries, as it happened some decades ago in more developed nations. According to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, four out of five top causes of deaths worldwide are NCDs nowadays (cardiovascular diseases being the main cause).  

Non Communicable diseases are linked to risk factors associated with sedentary urban lifestyles. For example, being overweight and smoking are behavioural risks that increase the probability of developing a condition like respiratory diseases and cancers. As well, today’s high calorie intake diets and low levels of physical exercise make people prone to develop conditions associated with sedentary life.

In this context, the association between prostate cancer and dietary fat intake has been examined by different studies, taking into account that there is already a connection between this type of cancer and obesity. In fact, obesity increases the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer, as well as it increases the incidence of it. This is due to the fact that obesity acts like a risk factor and has an effect on the body of cancer survivors.

A study written by Francesca L. Crowe and others, for the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008, tried to address the connection between dietary fat and prostate cancer. The study analyzed over 140.000 men in Europe and their specific diets (in terms of specific fat intake) trying to come up with a connection, but the results were inconclusive: no association was found for either total saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated fats.

Later on, work done by Katie M. Di Sebastiano and Marina Mourtzakis in 2014 was published regarding dietary fat throughout the prostate cancer trajectory. The study recognized the prevalence of prostate cancer in men and the low mortality rates associated with it. Furthermore, it analyzed the changes in fat metabolism and the genetic mechanisms that promote metastasis, concluding that without a clear connection between dietary fat and prostate cancer, high fat diets can still be considered an environmental driver for metastasis.

Even if scientific publications have not supported the link between prostate cancer and dietary intake, indirect causality associated to obesity as a risk factor has been strongly supported by many experts.


Latin American Post | Laura Delgado

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto


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