Got Prostate Cancer? Reach for Healthy Vegetable Fats

Bottom Line: Men with prostate cancer may significantly improve their survival chances with a simple change in their diets: By substituting healthy vegetable fats – such as olive and canola oils, nuts, seeds, and avocados – for animal fats and carbohydrates, men with the disease had a markedly lower chance of developing lethal prostate cancer and of dying from other causes, too.

The Study: Investigators from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF; USA) analyzed intake of saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans fats (as well as fats from animal and vegetable sources). The data were derived from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which began in 1986 and is sponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health (with National Cancer Institute funding).

The fat intake study involved 4,577 men who had been diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer between 1986 and 2010. During the study timeframe, 1,064 men died, primarily from cardiovascular disease (31%), prostate cancer (21%), and other cancers (21%).

The study adjusted for factors such as age, types of medical treatment, body mass index, smoking, exercise, other dietary factors, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol level at diagnosis, and other health conditions.

The Results: The authors found a striking benefit: Men who replaced 10% of their total daily calories from carbohydrates with healthy vegetable fats had a 20% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer and a 26% lower risk of dying from all causes.

Adding a single serving of oli-based dressing per day (one tablespoon) lowered the risk of lethal prostate cancer by 29%. A serving (1 ounce) of nuts lowered lethal prostate cancer risk by 18%.

My Take: While more research is needed (regarding the potential benefits of healthy fats for individuals with prostate cancer), these findings support counseling men with prostate cancer to follow a heart-healthy diet in which carbohydrate calories are replaced with unsaturated oils and nuts to reduce the risk of death from any cause. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and I already had walnuts and pecans today!

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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References: JAMA Internal Medicine (10 June 2013); Science Daily (

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

One thought on “Got Prostate Cancer? Reach for Healthy Vegetable Fats”

  1. Hi Michael,
    I suspect the absence of the pro-inflamatory effect of meat and dairy protein may contribute as much to the protection as the protective effect of the vegetable oils per the data from “The China Study”.

    Larry Johnson

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