High Dietary Saturated Fat Associated With Prostate Cancer Aggressiveness

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Emma Helen Allott, PhD University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC

Dr. Emma Allott

Emma Helen Allott, PhD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Allott: Prostate cancer incidence rates vary more than 25-fold worldwide, and are highest in Western countries. This large international variation is due in part to differences in screening practices between countries, but dietary factors may also play a role. Unlike other macronutrients, dietary fat intake varies more than fivefold worldwide, and individuals in Western countries are among the highest consumers of saturated fat. High dietary saturated fat content contributes to raised blood cholesterol levels, and evidence from population-based studies supports an adverse role for serum cholesterol and a protective role for cholesterol-lowering statins in prostate cancer. Our hypothesis in this study was that high saturated fat intake would drive prostate tumor aggressiveness via raising serum cholesterol levels.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Dr. Allott: Using the North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project, a study of 1,854 men with newly-diagnosed prostate cancer, we show that high dietary saturated fat content is associated with increased tumor aggressiveness. We found a slightly weaker effect of saturated fat on prostate cancer aggressiveness in men using statins to control serum cholesterol levels, suggesting that that statins may counteract, but do not completely negate, the effects of high saturated fat intake on prostate cancer aggressiveness. We also found an inverse association between high dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and prostate cancer aggressiveness.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Allott: Our findings suggest that controlling saturated fat intake and keeping serum cholesterol levels in check, clearly important for cardiovascular disease prevention, may also have a role in prostate cancer. However, this was an observational study and so men were not randomized to consume different amounts of saturated fat. Therefore, it is possible that men with a higher saturated fat content in their diet were also more likely to have other characteristics, including lower rates of prostate cancer screening, known to be associated with more aggressive tumors at diagnosis. Although we controlled for these characteristics in our statistical models, our findings should be still be interpreted cautiously, and within the context of other population-based and laboratory studies examining the impact of saturated fat on prostate cancer aggressiveness.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Allott: There is a need for more basic science research to understand mechanisms linking saturated fat intake, serum cholesterol levels and prostate tumor growth.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Allott: We adjusted dietary saturated fat for total fat intake in our statistical models, in order to separate the effects of saturated fat intake from total fat intake. Therefore, this study examined saturated fat intake as a proportion of total fat intake.


2016 AACR abstract:

Allott, E., et. al., “Saturated fat intake and prostate cancer aggressiveness: results from the population-based North Carolina-Louisiana prostate cancer project”

Emma H. Allott1, Lenore Arab2, L. Joseph Su3, Laura Farnan1, Elizabeth T.H. Fontham4, James L. Mohler5, Jeannette T. Bensen1, Susan E. Steck6. 1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC; 2University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; 3University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR; 4Louisiana State University, New Orleans, LA; 5Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY; 6University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

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