Swapping animal fats for a diet rich in nuts and olive oil can help prevent prostate cancer from spreading, a new study suggests.
A study into the eating habits of 4,577 men found those who reported snacking on vegetable fats like nuts, olive oil, avocados and seeds were less likely to die from tumors or other causes than those with diets high in animal fats.
The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, is the first to link fat consumption after a cancer diagnosis with the risk of death.
"A lot of doctors will simply say, ‘Cut out fat,'" after a prostate cancer diagnosis, Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urologist at Duke University Medical Center, told Reuters.
Freedland, who wrote an editorial on the study's findings, told Reuters that this research challenges the "no fat' advice.
"It actually says, if you eat more fat, albeit the right kind of fat,… you're less likely to die of not only prostate cancer, but really of any cause, which really flies in the face of this ‘low-fat, low-fat, low-fat' mantra that we've been told for decades now," he said.
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Men with prostate cancer who reported getting more than 21 percent of their daily calories from vegetable fats were about one-third less likely to die during the study than those who ate the least vegetable fat.
Men who ate a similar amount of animal fats were more likely to die from any cause.
Adding just one tablespoon of an oil-based salad dressing a day resulted in a 29 percent lower risk of dying from prostate cancer and a 13 percent lower risk of dying from any other cause, the researchers said.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of tumor - striking 1 in 6 men - but most don't die from it. There are currently 2.5 million men living with prostate cancer in the US, according to the American Cancer Society.
"The main take-home message is that consuming healthy fats and nuts may have a protective role," said study author Erin Richman from the University of California, San Francisco.
"The next step is to plan a randomized controlled trial of these healthier fats and see whether and how they affect the prostate."
Freedland noted that the only proven link to death from prostate cancer is obesity.