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High-Fat Diet May Promote Prostate Cancer Growth

Pandolfi-HeadshotProstate tumors tend to be slow-growing. But for those men whose prostate tumors grow and spread rapidly, the disease is very often fatal.

A new study conducted by researchers at the Cancer Center at BIDMC, and published in the journals Nature Genetics and Nature Communications, shows how the typical Western high-fat diet may promote prostate cancer growth.

Researchers studied two genes—known as PTEN and PML—that tend to be absent in prostate tumors that have metastasized (have spread to other parts of the body). They discovered that tumors without these genes produce a high amount of fat. By blocking this fat production with medication, researchers hope to prevent prostate tumors from spreading.

Rates of deaths from metastatic cancers including prostate cancer are much higher in the United States than in nations where lower fat diets are more common. While prostate cancer affects about ten percent of men in Asian nations, that rate climbs to about 40 percent when they immigrate to the U.S. This suggests that a high-fat diet may combine with genetic factors to drive this aggressive, fatal disease.

“The data are tremendously actionable, and they surely will convince you to change your lifestyle,” said senior author Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD.

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