Plant-Based Diet Associated with Favorable Prostate Cancer Outcomes

Research continues to suggest that a plant-based diet, along with other healthy lifestyle modifications, may be associated with improvements in short-term oncologic outcomes in patients with prostate cancer, and some studies indicate a protective effect of plant-based nutrition patterns on prostate cancer risk. These research findings were presented by Natasha Gupta, MD, of NYU Langone Health, at the 2022 American Urological Association Annual Meeting.

In their study, Dr. Gupta and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review in June 2020 on studies that reported primary data on full plant-based dietary patterns. These patterns included vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based diets. In addition, the investigators also focused their search on studies that reported the incidence of prostate cancer in individuals at risk for the disease. Other outcomes of interest included oncologic, general health/nutrition, or quality of life (QOL) in patients with prostate cancer or caregivers of patients with the condition.

The review included 31 publications, which included 16 interventional studies and 15 observational studies. Among the interventional studies, a total of 7 were from the Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial. Additionally, the EPIC-Oxford UK and Seventh Day Adventist cohorts were included in the cohort of observational studies.

In the interventional studies, most of the research examined lifestyle modification and the use of plant-based diets in patients on active surveillance for localized prostate cancer or with biochemical recurrence following therapy. These studies demonstrated improvements in short-term oncologic outcomes, in addition to improvements in general health, as well as other nutritional parameters.

Across the epidemiologic studies, many of which focused on prostate cancer risk, research demonstrated an either protective effect or no association between plant-based dietary patterns and prostate cancer risk. In contrast, the researchers found that vegan diet studies demonstrated consistent favorable associations between the plant-only dietary pattern and prostate cancer risk and/or outcomes.

Despite these findings, the researchers noted that the current literature lacks reports on the association between a plant-based dietary pattern and long-term disease-specific outcomes.

The researchers noted that the findings from this review “are encouraging,” particularly given the potential benefits of plant-based diets on not only prostate health, but also overall health, as well as animal welfare and environmental sustainability.