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Diet and Exercise May Protect Against Highly Aggressive Prostate Cancer: A Study

Jul 01, 2013 04:20 PM EDT

Eating right and exercising could decrease a person's chances of developing highly aggressive prostate cancer, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles' Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC).

Led by Lenore Arab, a JCCC member and professor in the departments of medicine and biological chemistry, the researchers examined associations between adherence to World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) lifestyle recommendations and the risk of highly aggressive prostate cancer among subjects enrolled in the North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project.

Participants included 2,212 men between 40 and 70 years old with newly diagnosed prostate cancer.

WCRF recommendations are intended to decrease overall risk of cancer and are recommended for cancer survivors. Sure enough, the researchers found that adherence to fewer than four of the eight WCRF recommendations predicted a 38 percent increased risk of aggressive tumors compared with adherence to four or more recommendations.

This was true, according to the scientists, for both black and white men, despite a baseline higher risk of highly aggressive tumors among black men.

In particular, eating less than 500 grams of red meat per week or less than 125 total kilocalories per 100 grams of food per day proved especially important in terms of protecting against highly aggressive tumors for all subjects in the study.

Each point in a patient's total adherence score corresponded to a 13 percent reduction in risk of aggressive cancer, researchers determined. All, told, a total adherence score of less than 4 predicted an increased risk of aggressive tumors in all patients.

"Most men are at risk of prostate cancer, but it is the level of aggressiveness of disease that is most clinically relevant," Arab said in a press release. "These findings suggest that even men with prostate cancer can take control of their disease and moderate its aggressiveness through diet and lifestyle choices."

Measurement of prostate cancer aggressiveness was based on Gleason grading system scores, blood levels of prostate-specific antigen and TNM malignant tumor classification. Meanwhile, adherence to WCRF recommendations was based on point scores and odds ratios estimated.

These findings assume that patients' reports reflect their long-term dietary habits, which is supported by research that indicates that diet is relatively stable in adulthood.

Supported by Department of Defense through the Prostate Cancer Project, the study was published online ahead of print in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.

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