A vegan diet can reduce prostate cancer risk by 35 percent in men, a new study found. Men who followed a vegan diet were found to have increased "protective association" against the disease.
A vegan diet avoids all dairy and meat products and focuses on the consumption of vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
A previous study has shown that a meatless diet of vegetables and fish can reduce risks of colorectal cancer. Now, funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), a new study looked if there were significant associations between vegan, meat-inclusive and fish-based diets and prostate cancer risks.
Led by Professor Gary Fraser, Loma Linda University, researchers analyzed the eating habits of 26,000 men. They found 1,079 prostate cancer cases. Only 8 percent of the male participants are vegan diet followers.
The findings succeeded in providing new data about eating habits and prostate cancer prevention. Further research can lead to new prevention techniques.
"Still lingering, however, is the perception that eating meat is macho, that it somehow enhances masculinity or virility. Yet it is killing thousands of men in the UK every year," said Vegan Society spokesperson Jimmy Pierce.
Pierce added that it is time to let go of the outdated belief and incorporate more plant-based diets regardless of gender. This is beneficial not just to one's health but also to the planet and the animals.
According to WCRF research director Dr. Panagiota Mitrou, further research is required to strengthen the association between vegan diet and cancer, particularly in determining which veganism aspect people can most benefit from.
In a separate study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found an association between prostate cancer radiotherapy treatment and the increased risk for the development of secondary malignancies of the rectum, bladder and colorectal tract.
Health experts from both U.S. and Canada found the link in their analysis of 21 standalone studies. The research team advised doctors to take the risks into consideration if the prostate cancer is only in its early stages of the cancer. This will help them determine if the radiotherapy benefits can offset the potential risks.
"Ultimately, clinicians and patients must decide together whether, for example, the roughly 1.4 -1.7 fold increase in relative risk of a second malignancy after a 10 year lag period justifies alternative treatments," said Harvard University's Radiation Oncology Program clinical fellow Dr. Christine Eyler.
Prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer among men in the UK, affects over 47,000 men with 10,000 deaths happening yearly. Early prevention is key to lowering the number of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer yearly.