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Plant-based food plan linked to less erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence in prostate cancer patients

A food plan that limits meat and dairy but is wealthy in fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts is linked to less erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and other common unintended effects seen in prostate cancer patients, a brand new study shows.

Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the evaluation of greater than 3,500 men with prostate cancer explored whether eating a more plant-based food plan was related to quality-of-life issues that usually arise after treatment. Sorting patients into five groups (quintiles) based on the proportion of plant versus animal foods the lads said they eat, the authors found that the quintile that consumed probably the most plants scored 8% to 11% higher in measures of sexual function compared with the group that consumed the least.

Similarly, the outcomes revealed as much as 14% higher scores for urinary health, with fewer instances of incontinence, obstruction, and irritation. The authors further found as much as 13% higher scores in hormonal health (which assesses symptoms like low energy, depression, and hot flashes) amongst the best quintile of plant-based food plan compared with the bottom.

Our findings offer hope for those in search of ways to enhance their quality of life after undergoing surgery, radiation, and other common therapies for prostate cancer, which may cause significant unintended effects.” 

Stacy Loeb, MD., study lead writer and urologist

“Adding more vegatables and fruits to their food plan, while reducing meat and dairy, is a straightforward step that patients can take,” added Loeb, a professor within the Departments of Urology and Population Health at NYU Langone Health.

Prostate cancer is amongst probably the most common and deadliest types of cancer amongst American men, in keeping with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previous research by the identical team had already found that eating a plant-based food plan may reduce the danger of developing the disease in the primary place. Other investigations have connected this food plan to a lower risk of sexual dysfunction on the whole but not specifically for those with prostate cancer, who’re at particularly high risk for such issues.

The brand new study, publishing online Feb. 13 within the journal Cancer, can also be believed to be the primary of its kind to indicate higher urinary health in these patients based on nutrition, says Loeb.

For the research, the team analyzed data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, an ongoing investigation begun in 1986 and sponsored by Harvard Chan School. The information set consists of knowledge on greater than 50,000 male dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists, and veterinarians. The project was designed to raised understand how nutrition influences risks related to cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.

As a part of the project, men with prostate cancer answered a questionnaire every 4 years concerning the sorts of foods they ate and in what proportions. One other survey, which was administered every two years, assessed frequency of incontinence, difficulties maintaining an erection, and problems with bowels, energy, and mood, amongst many other health concerns. Many of the patients (greater than 83%) had received prostate cancer treatment, Loeb notes, and all included in the present study had early types of the disease that had not yet spread to other organs. She adds that when looking for potential connections between plant-based food plan and health, the research team took into consideration weight, physical activity, and plenty of other aspects that might affect quality of life.

Among the many findings, the researchers say, eating high amounts of any plant-based food was linked to raised sexual health, urinary health, and vitality scores, no matter demographic aspects, lifestyle differences, or history of other medical issues corresponding to diabetes. Eating more healthy plant-based food was also related to higher bowel function, which, Loeb says, could also be explained by the dietary fiber present in plants.

“These results add to the long list of health and environmental advantages of eating more plants and fewer animal products,” said Loeb. “In addition they clearly challenge the historical misconception that eating meat boosts sexual function in men, when in reality the other appears to be the case.”

Loeb cautions that the lads assessed within the study were mostly White healthcare professionals. In consequence, she says the team next plans to expand their research to a more diverse group of patients and to those with more advanced stages of the disease.

Funding for the study was provided by National Institutes of Health grant U01CA167552, Recent York State Department of Health, Tricia and Michael Berns, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Along with Loeb, other investigators involved within the study are Qi Hua, MSc; Alaina Shreves, MS; and Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD, at Harvard Chan School in Boston. Scott Bauer, MD, ScM; Stacey Kenfield, ScD; June Chan, ScD; and Erin Van Blarigan, ScD, on the University of California, San Francisco; and Alicia Morgans, MD, MPH, on the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Lorelei Mucci, MPH, ScD, at Harvard Chan School, served as study senior writer.


Journal reference:

Loeb, S., et al. (2024) Plant‐based food plan related to higher quality of life in prostate cancer survivors. Cancer. doi.org/10.1002/cncr.35172.

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