Winter
2011

Discovery

High-fat diet linked to prostate disease

High-fat diet linked to prostate disease

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered another reason to think twice before hitting the fast-food drive-thru—a link between high-fat diets and prostate cancer.

Diet is considered one of the most controllable risk factors for prostate cancer— which is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men—and other prostate diseases like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatitis.

High-fat diets have long been connected to increased risk for a variety of health problems, from heart disease to diabetes to stroke. A research team led by Sanjay Gupta, PhD, the Carter Kissell Associate Professor and research director in the Department of Urology, conducted a study to understand the disastrous effects an unhealthy diet can have on the prostate. The study builds on previous work demonstrating that a protein complex called nuclear factor kappa B is activated by inflammation and stress and is related to tumor progression in prostate cancer.

After being fed a high-fat diet for intervals of four, eight and 12 weeks, mice in the study had significant increases in prostate weight and higher levels of inflammation compared with mice fed a regular diet. The results are direct evidence that a high-fat diet can cause inflammation and oxidative stress that can lead to a range of prostate problems, including cancer, BPH and prostatitis, some of the most common disorders affecting adult men.

The study strengthens the link between the Western-style high-fat diet, often criticized for its reliance on red meat and processed convenience foods, as a potential cause of prostatic diseases, Gupta says.

The study was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Sullivan Foundation for the Study of Prostatitis.