Plant-Based Diet May Offer Benefit in Patients With Prostate Cancer

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A plant-based diet may help reduce the risk of disease progression in patients with prostate cancer, according to a recent study published by Liu et al in JAMA Network Open.


Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men.

Plant-based diets—which are becoming increasingly popular in the United States—consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils, tea, and coffee. There is currently evidence that the diets can be beneficial in patients with prostate cancer. Further fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown to protect against prostate cancer. Previous studies have demonstrated the importance of dietary factors to overall well-being.

“Making small changes in one’s diet each day is beneficial,” explained senior study author Stacey A. Kenfield, ScD, Professor of Urology and the Helen Diller Family Chair in Population Science for Urologic Cancer at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). “Greater consumption of plant-based food after a prostate cancer diagnosis has also recently been associated with better quality of life—including sexual function, urinary function, and vitality.” 

Study Methods and Results

In the recent study, investigators examined the diets of 2,000 patients with a median age of 65 years and localized prostate cancer—with the goal of determining how dietary factors affect prostate cancer progression. They measured consumption over time using a plant-based index and compared the patients who scored in the highest 20% with those who scored in the lowest 20%.

The investigators found that patients primarily following a plant-based diet experienced a 47% lower risk of prostate cancer progression compared with those who consumed the most animal products.  

The investigators noted that the reduced risk was achieved by consuming just one or two more servings per day of healthy foods—particularly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—and eating fewer animal products like dairy and meat.


“These results could guide [patients] to make … more healthful choices across their whole diet rather than adding or removing select foods,” emphasized lead study author Vivian N. Liu, BS, MAS, of the Osher Center for Integrative Health at UCSF. “Progressing to advanced disease is one of many pivotal concerns among patients with prostate cancer, their families, caregivers, and physicians. This adds to numerous other health benefits associated with consuming a primarily plant-based diet such as a reduction in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality,” she concluded.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.