Your Healthy Family: Study links diet-related gut molecules and prostate cancer

Posted at 7:37 AM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 07:37:38-05

Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered, for the first time, that molecules in the gut related to what men eat are associated with aggressive prostate cancer. This suggests that changes in a man's diet could help reduce his risk.

"What we found is there are certain metabolites that are associated with animal product intake, meat intake, dairy intake, that appear to elevate the risk of lethal prostate cancer," Dr. Nima Sharifi, the lead researcher on the study, said.

Dr. Sharifi said they looked at blood samples from 700 patients, and found men with elevated levels of a certain metabolite were two-or-three times more likely to be diagnosed with deadly prostate cancer. They also learned elevated levels of two nutrients — which are common in animal products, like red meat, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products — were also linked to an increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer.

Dr. Sharifi said while more research still needs to be done, they hope this information can one day be used to help identify patients who can lower their risk for this kind of prostate cancer by making changes to their diet and lifestyle.

"One thing that’s really important is that we found a correlation, and it cannot establish causation, meaning we can’t say any of these specific metabolites cause the deadly form of prostate cancer. There’s an association there," Dr. Sharifi said.

According to the American Cancer Society, other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States.