In the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Symposium in February 2023, scientists from the University of California, U.S., have shared a crucial finding: a plant-based diet was successful in cutting the risk of prostate cancer, i.e., the second most common cancer in men, recurrence and progression by half.
This study recruited 2,038 patients (median age of 64) with stage 1-2 prostate cancer. The patients were mostly treated with radical prostatectomy (surgery, 63%), followed by radiation therapy (22%), active surveillance without treatment (6%), hormone therapy (5%), and other means (4%). Dietary lifestyles were tracked over a median of 7.4 years.
Results showed that the top 20% quantile of patients who consumed the most plant-based foods had 53% and 52% lower risks of cancer recurrence and progression, respectively, compared to the lowest 20% quantile. Such risk protection persists regardless of participants’ age, family history of prostate cancer, socioeconomic status, walking pace (a measure of functional health) or cancer severity. This means that even the older, less healthy patients benefit from a plant-based diet.
Such findings are invaluable because the main challenge intreating prostate cancer lies in the long-term battle. Although cancer treatment has improved immensely overthe decades, increasing survival rates, the rate of cancer recurrence remains stubbornly high. Prostate cancer has a biochemical recurrence rate of 32% over a 10-year period, characterised by a rise in prostate-specific antigen levels (Figure 1). Some recurrences may even occur as metastases (cancer spread). However, the rate of prostate cancer recurrence is not fixed and often varies between 20-40%, depending on the cancer aggressiveness and lifestyle factors (e.g., diet, smoking and exercise).