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Diet and Prostate Cancer

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
PAUL MONIZ: Here to discuss what prostate cancer is, and how it is diagnosed, are two specialists in the field. To my left we have Doctor Daniel Shasha. He is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, which is affiliated with the Beth Israel Medical Center. Thanks for joining us.

DANIEL SHASHA, MD: Thank you.

PAUL MONIZ: Next to him we have Doctor Robert Salant, who is an Associate Professor of Urology at the NYU School of Medicine.

What about the role of diet? There was an interesting study involving Japanese men. Japanese men traditionally have lower rates of prostate cancer when they live in Japan, but when they've come over, in a couple of decades their rates are perhaps as high as American men. Is that correct?

ROBERT SALANT, MD: This is true. Because of that, there has been a lot of thought that perhaps the type of diet does play a role in the development of prostate cancer. For example, the American diet is higher in fat and higher in red meat intake than is the Japanese diet, which is higher in soy product and vegetable. It's quite compelling, when comparing the Japanese population in Japan to the Japanese population that has been living in America and seeing the divergence of the rate of prostate cancer towards that of the average, western American diet patient.

PAUL MONIZ: Doctor Shasha, how does fat affect the prostate? What's happening in there that might be causing problems?

DANIEL SHASHA, MD: Well, one possible mechanism associated with obesity or increased fat is increased turnover of testosterone. I'm going back to the first risk factor of having prostate cancer, having higher levels of testosterone. If you look at historic series, patients who, for any number of reason, may have been castrated -- choirboys, for instance -- they as young men who have been castrated do not go on to develop prostate cancer.

The corollary with obesity or with increased fat intake may be an increased level of testosterone in some of these patients, which may promote the development of prostate cancer.

PAUL MONIZ: All right. Some very good information. I appreciate it. Doctor Daniel Shasha, I appreciate your time. And Doctor Robert Salant, as well.

I'm Paul Moniz, thanks for joining us.

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