Can what you eat help prevent prostate cancer? Several studies have shown that in countries where men eat a typical “Western” diet containing a large amount of meat, the incidence of prostate cancer, particularly aggressive prostate cancer, is higher than in countries where plant-based foods are a primary part of the diet. Unfortunately, these studies weren’t designed to prove cause and effect. But researchers are looking to change that.
Investigators have launched a federally funded national study to see whether a diet that’s higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods than the typical Western diet will help control tumor growth in men with early-stage prostate cancer.
Participants in the Men’s Eating and Living (MEAL) study will try to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily — significantly more than the three to four servings consumed each day by the typical American man — as well as two servings of whole grains and one serving of beans or other legumes.
This clinical trial will include men 50-80 years old who have small, low-grade tumors and who have opted to have their condition followed closely (active surveillance) rather than undergoing immediate treatment. Researchers will randomly assign participants to telephone counseling about how to achieve the dietary MEAL goals or to a control group that receives standard dietary advice for Americans.
During the two-year study, the investigators will collect blood samples to assess levels of antioxidants and nutrients, and then monitor the men with PSA tests and prostate biopsies to determine whether the cancer is progressing. A pilot study showed the approach is workable, and that with enough encouragement, men can increase their intake of vegetables and other healthy foods.