A diet high in fried foods is associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer. In addition, to lowering fat, researchers also suggest increasing fiber intake to further reduce the risk of men developing the disease.
Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center analyzed data from two studies involving over 3,000 men and found that those who consume fried foods such as French fries, fried chicken, and donuts at least once a week were at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer as compared to men who ate the foods less than once a month.
Even worse, those with frequent, regular consumption of fried foods were associated with a greater risk of more aggressive disease.
Deep frying, says author Janet L. Stanford PhD, increases the likelihood of the formation of potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds in the foods. These include acrylamide, found in carbohydrate-rich foods such as French-fried potatoes, heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (found when meat is cooked at high temperature), aldehyde, an organic compound found in perfume, and acrolein, a chemical found in herbicides. The toxic compounds are increased when oil is reused, such as would occur in a fast food restaurant, and with increased length of frying time.
Foods cooked at high heat also contain high levels of advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs, which are associated with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Deep-fried foods are among the highest in AGE content. For example, a fried chicken breast contains more than nine times the amount of AGE in a chicken breast that is boiled.
Deep-fried foods are not only linked to an increase in prostate cancer, but also to cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, head and neck and esophagus.
In addition to reducing the amount of fried foods a person eats, a lower cancer risk may also be obtained by the consumption of a high-fiber diet. Kormal Raina, a research instructor at the Skaggs School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, found that mice fed inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), a component of a high fiber diet especially found in foods such as beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, and wheat bran, had a lower incidence in tumors and had slower tumor growth.
Note: Inositol hexaphosphate is sold as a dietary supplement in the US, but experts warn against using these instead of making dietary changes with real food. The American Cancer Society also warns men with prostate cancer not to use a dietary supplement in place of proven medical care.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories of food they eat each day. For men up to age 50, this equals about 38 grams per day. After 50, the recommendation drops to 30 grams per day (due to fewer calories consumed). However, the average American only eats between 10 and 15 grams per day.
The University of California San Francisco offers these easy tips for increasing the amount of fiber you eat each day:
Grains and Cereals
• As a general rule, include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal.
• Keep a jar of oat bran or wheat germ handy. Sprinkle over salad, soup, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
• Use whole-wheat flour when possible in your cooking and baking.
• Choose whole grain bread. Look on the label for breads with the highest amount of fiber per slice.
• Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
• Keep whole-wheat crackers on hand for an easy snack.
• Cook with brown rice instead of white rice. If the switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together.
Legumes and Beans
• Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads. Each 1/2 cup serving is approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
• Substitute legumes for meat two to three times per week in chili and soups
• Experiment with international dishes (such as Indian or Middle Eastern) that use whole grains and legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.
Fruits and Vegetables
• Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruit is higher in fiber than canned. Fruits and vegetables with the highest fiber content include apples (when eating the peels), orange, tangerine, pear, blueberries, strawberries, peas, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potato, squash.
• Have fresh fruit for dessert.
• Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juices. Juices don’t have fiber.
• Add chopped dried fruits to your cookies, muffins, pancakes or breads before baking. Dried fruits have a higher amount of fiber than the fresh versions. For example, 1 cup of grapes has 1 gram of fiber, but 1 cup of raisins has 7 grams. However, 1 cup of raisins or any other dried fruit has more calories than the fresh fruit variety.
• Add sliced banana, peach or other fruit to your cereal.
• Grate carrots on salads.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men after skin cancer. About 241,740 new cases are diagnosed each year. A new report on the status of cancer indicates that prostate cancer is one of those that are currently on the decline in the US, likely due to successful early treatment and improved awareness of prevention habits. More than 2 million men in the US are prostate cancer survivors.
Marni Stott-Miller, Marian L. Neuhouser, Janet L. Stanford.Consumption of deep-fried foods and risk of prostate cancer. The Prostate, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/pros.22643
Joshi AD, Corral R, Catsburg C, Lewinger JP, Koo J, John EM, Ingles S, Stern MC. Red meat and poultry, cooking practices, genetic susceptibility and risk of prostate cancer: results from the California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study. Carcinogenesis, Jul 20, 2012 [link]
Häggström C et al. “Prospective study on metabolic factors and risk of prostate cancer” Cancer 2012; DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27677.