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Study shows making diet change could impact severity of prostate cancer: 'Healthier than a conventional diet'

While the study didn't establish causation, the association was "quite strong."

While the study didn't establish causation, the association was "quite strong."

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A new study has potentially promising news for men diagnosed with prostate cancer, with participants who ate the largest quantities of plant-based foods showing a reduced risk of the disease's progression.

As detailed by Health, previous research by the study's authors found that a plant-based diet reduced the risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The latest findings complement that work.

"Consuming a primarily plant-based diet — and less animal-based food — after a prostate cancer diagnosis may be associated with better prostate cancer-specific outcomes," senior author Stacey A. Kenfield told the online platform. 

The professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco, explained that while the study didn't establish causation, the association was "quite strong." The hope is to confirm the findings in additional studies. 

The research, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, looked at data from 2,062 men who had been diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer and enrolled at urology practices from 1999 to 2018. 

Diet and lifestyle questionnaires revealed that men who ate the largest quantities of plant-based foods cut the risk of cancer progression by 47%. Those diagnosed with "medium-grade cancer," as categorized by the Gleason grading system, had a 55% reduced risk of their cancer growing worse. 

Cleveland Clinic urological oncologist Samuel Haywood told Health that many plant-based foods naturally have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. These compounds may inhibit cell damage associated with cancer. 

"These diets can often be healthier than a conventional diet, such as lower in fats or processed foods," Haywood explained. 

This isn't the only research linking plant-based diets to improved health outcomes. An unrelated study by McGill University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine discovered that swapping plant proteins for red and processed meat around half of the time could extend people's lifespans by almost nine months. 

Eating more vegetables also comes with the benefit of a fatter wallet, as swapping just one-quarter of meat-based meals with veggie-centered ones could result in $200 saved annually. It would also eliminate thousands of pounds of air pollution that cause our planet to overheat, contributing to food insecurity as extreme weather events become more common.

"These results could guide people to make better, more healthful choices across their whole diet, rather than adding or removing select foods," lead author Vivian N. Liu said in a news release by UCSF. " ... This adds to numerous other health benefits associated with consuming a primarily plant-based diet, such as a reduction in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality."

"Making small changes in one's diet each day is beneficial," Kenfield added. "Greater consumption of plant-based food after a prostate cancer diagnosis has also recently been associated with better quality of life, including sexual function, urinary function, and vitality, so it's a win-win on both levels." 

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