All cancer survivors want advice on how to remain in remission. Prostate cancer survivors feel this same way. After undergoing rigorous treatment and then being told, “You’re in remission,” there are many concerns men have about avoiding a cancer recurrence. One of those concerns revolves around what foods to eat.
Several recent studies are showing that one possible way to prevent cancer recurrence is to limit red and processed meat. While the association between eating meat after a cancer diagnosis and the cause of death from any cause, or specifically from prostate cancer, is limited, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends updated dietary guidelines that might improve the length of survival for men with a prostate cancer diagnosis. One such recommendation is to eat less red meat and processed meats and more poultry
Interesting findings from several studies
The research on the suggestion that food plays a role in affecting prostate cancer risk is strong. One such study from the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort, looked at the data from men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer but had not spread (nonmetastatic) beyond the prostate gland. Another earlier study used data from the Cancer Prevention Study-II Nutrition Cohort which also suggested that certain foods influenced prostate cancer risk.
But data from a 2020 study took advantage of reviewing what men ate both before and after the diagnosis of prostate cancer that had not spread, to find what effect food had on these men dying from prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, and death from all causes.
What was discovered from the 2020 study was certain foods appeared to be associated with a moderately higher risk of developing an advanced stage (stage III or IV) prostate cancer.
These foods associated with a possible higher risk of advanced stage prostate cancer include:
- Red meat, including beef, pork, and lamb
- Processed meat, including sausage, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, ham, bacon, and luncheon meats
- Eggs with the yolk
Another interesting finding was that it also depended on the frequency and amounts these men ate of red meat and processed meats. Specifically found was the following:
- Men who consumed 5 servings a week of either red or processed meat, either before or after their prostate cancer diagnosis, had a 10% to 20% higher risk of prematurely dying from all causes and mostly from causes other than prostate cancer.
- Men who ate 1 more serving a day of red or processed meat have a 17% higher risk of dying from all causes and a 19% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
- Men who ate red meat had no association with the progression of prostate cancer.
The study also found that men, who eat poultry, including unprocessed chicken and turkey, may have a lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. In fact, men who eat about 3.5 servings of poultry a week, either before or after a diagnosis of prostate cancer, have a 10% to 20% lower risk of prematurely dying from all causes.
Take away from the studies
This study was the first of its kind to look at the effect of eating poultry on the survival rate of men with prostate cancer. The authors did note that more research is needed to understand the effect of eating certain types and amounts of meat and the risk of dying from prostate cancer.
In the meantime, men should either avoid or limit their intake of red and processed meats each week. Red meat, such as lean cuts of beef, pork, and lamb (look for the words, “loin” or “round” indicating lean meat), can still be eaten but to limit intake to a 4-6 ounce serving size, no more than twice a week. Processed meats should ideally be avoided altogether, due to their high sodium and fat content.