Adoption of a plant-based diet by patients with recurrent prostate cancer.


Nguyen JY, Major JM, Knott CJ, Freeman KM, Downs TM, Saxe GA.

Year Published: 



Integr Cancer Ther.


Study Design: 


The Western diet has been associated with prostate cancer incidence as well as risk of disease progression after treatment. Conversely, plant-based diets have been associated with decreased risks. A pilot clinical trial of a 6-month dietary change and stress reduction intervention for asymptomatic, hormonally untreated patients experiencing a consistently rising PSA level, the first sign of recurrence of prostate cancer after surgery or radiation therapy, was conducted to investigate the level of intake of plant-based foods and the relationship between intake and the change in the rate of PSA rise. A pre-post design was employed in which each patient served as his own control. In this multifaceted intervention, patients and their spouses were encouraged to adopt and maintain a plant-based diet. The prestudy rate of PSA rise (from the time of posttreatment recurrence to the start of the study) was ascertained by review of patients' medical records. Dietary assessments were performed and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels ascertained at baseline, prior to the start of intervention, and at 3 and 6 months. Changes in numbers of servings of plant-based food groups were calculated and compared with rates of PSA rise over the corresponding time intervals. Median intake of whole grains increased from 1.7 servings/d at baseline to 6.9 and 5.0 servings/d at 3 and 6 months, respectively. Median intake of vegetables increased from 2.8 servings/d at baseline to 5.0 and 4.8 servings/d at 3 and 6 months, respectively. The rate of PSA rise decreased when comparing the prestudy period (0.059) to the period from 0 to 3 months (-0.002, P < .01) and increased slightly, though not significantly, when comparing the period from 0 to 3 months to the period from 3 to 6 months (0.029, P = .4316). These results provide preliminary evidence that adoption of a plant-based diet is possible to achieve as well as to maintain for several months in patients with recurrent prostate cancer. Changes in the rate of rise in PSA, an indicator of disease progression, were in the opposite direction as changes in the intake of plant-based food groups, raising the provocative possibility that PSA may have inversely tracked intake of these foods and suggesting that adoption of a plant-based diet may have therapeutic potential in the management of this condition.