Mediterranean diet and overall mortality after diagnosis with non-metastatic prostate cancer


An article in European Urology has shown that a heart-healthy, “Mediterranean” diet lowers the overall mortality of men diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, the study also shows that this type of diet has no impact on risk for a diagnosis of advanced or lethal prostate cancer or on prostate cancer progression or prostate cancer-specific mortality after diagnosis.

Kenfield et al. analyzed data from the 47,867 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who had been followed from 1986 to 2010. The authors’ goal was to determine whether the traditional Mediterranean diet pattern is associated with any or all of the following:

  • Risk of diagnosis with incident, advanced, or lethal prostate cancer
  • Risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality among men already diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • Risk of overall mortality among men already diagnosed with prostate cancer

Here are the core findings of the study:

  • Between 1986 and 2010, 6,220 cases of prostate cancer (13.0 percent) were confirmed among the 47,876 men enrolled in the study.
  • Of those 6,220 cases of prostate cancer,
    • 4,538 were in men diagnosed with non-metastatic disease.
  • Adherence to a Mediterranean diet was not associated with any effect on risk of diagnosis of advanced or lethal prostate cancer
  • In the case-only analysis
    • There was no association between regular use of the Mediterranean diet after diagnosis and risk of lethal or fatal prostate cancer.
    • There was a 22 percent lower risk of overall mortality (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.78) among men with greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet after prostate cancer diagnosis.

The authors conclude that a higher “Med-Diet score” (i.e., a greater degree of compliance with a Mediterranean-type diet had no impact on risk for diagnosis with advanced prostate cancer or disease progression over time, but it did have an impact on risk for overall mortality among those men initially diagnosed with non-metastatic disease.

While it is disappointing to see (once again) that a heart healthy diet appears to have no effect on overall risk for a diagnosis of advanced or lethal prostate cancer, it is (conversely) gratifying to see that men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer who adhere to a heart healthy diet after their diagnosis can benefit from a reduction in their risk of death from all causes (overall mortality).

One Response

  1. I find it interesting that the “Mediterranean diet” seems to be always used generically, yet few US men undestand it or adhere to it. That is, of course until s**t happens … and then it may be water under the bridge.

    My personal nutrition success after being diagnosed, has been attributed lowering portions, adhering to a Mediterranean diet, avoiding red meat, fried foods, sugar, and dramatically increasing morning smoothies with fresh vegs/fruits and eating smaller more frequent meals. Sounds simple, right?

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