Eating whole-grain products doesn’t reduce risk for prostate cancer

Perhaps to be more strictly accurate we should rephrase that heading as, “A diet high in whole-grain products did not appear to reduce the risk for prostate cancer among a large cohort of Danish men aged between 50 and 64 years.”

A new report by Egeberg et al., based on data collected as part of the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort study, has evaluated the impact of a diet high in whole-grain products (e.g., whole-grain rye bread, whole-grain bread, and oatmeal) on subsequent risk for prostate cancer.

This Danish study included a total of 26,691 men, all between 50-64 years at time of study entry, who provided information about their diets and potential prostate cancer risk factors (among other data). The men were followed for an average (median) of 12.4 years. During that timeframe, Egeberg et al. were able to identify 1,081 newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer (4.1 percent) among the total study cohort.

Analysis of the available data showed that:

  • There was no overall association between total intake of whole-grain products and risk for prostate cancer.
  • There was no association between intake of specific whole-grain products and risk of prostate cancer.
  • Risk estimates did not appear to differ on the basis of stage or grade of disease at time of diagnosis.

Whether such data can be applied to other populations (e.g., in the USA or the UK) is open to question, but the basis for conclusions from the current study would appear to be sound, and this conclusion is probably generally applicable to Scandinavian populations.

3 Responses

  1. Am I alone in thinking this is a slightly eccentric study? Did it only concentrate on ‘whole-grain products’? If so, why?

    There surely must be plenty of additional information on the remainder of the cohort’s diets and resultant correlation to prostate cancer incidence?

  2. Richard:

    This is only one report in a series of papers published this year alone. However, so far it appears to be the only one that is specific to prostate cancer. Who knows, there may be dozens more papers in the works from this cohort study.

  3. Maybe people who eat whole grain are less likely to have heart disease and so take less statins or aspirin, both thought to decrease incidence of prostate cancer. Or maybe they are more health conscious and more likely to have their PSA tested. Or maybe they have less diabetes, also associated with decreased incidence of prostate cancer. Or maybe people lied filling in the form. There are plenty of possible confounding factors in an observational study like this.

    On the other hand, it is not such a surprising result. People in East Asia have a much lower incidence of age-adjusted prostate cancer than Westerners and as far as I know their grain consumption comes mainly from white rice and noodles made from processed wheat.

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