Low Fat Diets
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer, men are capable of adhering to a low-fat diet for up to 1 year if they receive appropriate counseling and support, a new study shows.
There is evidence that dietary fat plays a role in the development and course of the prostate cancer, Dr. L.H. Lumey of Columbia University Medical Center in New York and colleagues note, but some clinicians have been skeptical about the feasibility of a low-fat diet for prostate cancer patients.
"It was important for us to establish if this indeed was such a complicated matter," Dr. Lumey told Reuters Health.
To investigate, Dr. Lumey and colleagues randomized 48 men with prostate cancer to a diet containing 15% fat or less, with or without vitamin E and selenium supplements; supplements only; or to a control group.
All of the men received nutritional counseling at baseline, but the men on the low-fat diet and their spouses received more intensive intervention, with biweekly visits with a nutritionist for the first 4 months of the study, followed by monthly group sessions.
After 3 months, men in the low-fat diet group had cut their calorie intake from fat by 8.6% and lost an average of 2 kg, while men in the control group had increased their fat intake by 2.1% and lost 0.8 kg.
One year after the trial began, men on the low-fat diet had lost 2.8 kg and maintained a 9.8% lower fat intake, while those on the normal diet had gained 0.5 kg and were eating 1.6% less fat.
A diagnosis of prostate cancer appears to be a strong motivation for lifestyle change, the researchers note. "These results open the possibility of planning for larger studies to assess the effect of a low-fat dietary intervention on quality of life, disease progression, and survival in men with prostate cancer," they conclude.
Dr. Lumey said he was struck by the commitment to making dietary changes among patients in the study. "People are very involved -- this whole diet thing in prostate cancer patients, it's like a subculture in a way, it generates tremendous involvement and energy," he said. "There's a need to find out what's going on because it's not just an academic issue. Patients talk about this all the time."