Fatty Acids Could Foster Tumor Growth
Previous research has indicated that obese men are more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer, and more likely to die from the disease. Likewise, eating a typical “Western” diet high in fat is also associated with worse outcomes for prostate cancer. Researchers continue to examine this correlation – and look for ways to translate scientific findings into treatment.
Astudy from researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio found that men who ate more fat in their diet had a higher risk of prostate cancer, and that eating more of the fatty foods subsequently increased the risk.
The study divided men into five groups according to the amounts of fat and fatty acids they ate. The risk of prostate cancer increased with each group that ate more fat in their diet. In particular, each group that ate more saturated fatty acids had a 19% increased risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. For trans-fatty acids, the increase was 21% for each group.
Another study from Australia looked at prostate tumors in a laboratory setting and discovered that a certain protein was transporting fatty acids into tumor cells, thus fueling the growth of the cancer. Interestingly, these fatty acids did not come from fatty acids that were eaten. They came from excess carbohydrates that had been stored in the body, then converted into fatty acids.
The researchers tested the effects of drugs that blocked this protein and the conversion of carbohydrates into fatty accids, and found both to be effective in reducing tumor growth.
Although the study took place in the laboratory, the authors wrote that this protein could be a new target for treating prostate cancer in patients.
Dr. Catalona’s Opinion
Recent studies from Harvard suggest that obesity factors may contribute to progression in men whose tumors have a common gene fusion called ERG. These men might benefit more from diet (including high tomato sauce intake) and exercise as secondary prevention of progression of their tumor to lethal disease.