Prostate Cancer

This is an extract from Prof T. Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study, where he links Prostate Cancer to diet.

“While I cannot speak to the clinical condition of an individual, I can speak to the research, and of the research I have seen, there is no doubt that diet plays a key role in this disease.

Although there is debate regarding the specifics of diet and this cancer, let’s start with some very safe assumptions that have long been accepted in the research community:

  • Prostate cancer rates vary widely between different countries, even more than breast cancer.
  • High prostate cancer rates primarily exist in societies with “Western” diets and lifestyles.
  • In developing countries, men who adopt Western eating practices or move to Western countries suffer more prostate cancer.

These disease patterns are similar to those of other diseases of affluence. Mostly this tells us that although prostate cancer certainly has a genetic component, environmental factors play the dominant role. So what environmental factors are important? You can guess that I’m going to say plant-based foods are good and animal-based foods are bad, but do we know anything more specific? Surprisingly, one of the most consistent, specific links between diet and prostate cancer has been dairy consumption.

A 2001 Harvard review of the research could hardly be more convincing:

… twelve of … fourteen case-control studies and seven of … nine cohort studies [have] observed a positive association for some measure of dairy products and prostate cancer; this is one of the most consistent dietary predictors for prostate cancer in the published literature [my emphasis]. In these studies, men with the highest dairy intakes had approximately double the risk of total prostate cancer, and up to a fourfold increase in risk of metastatic or fatal prostate cancer relative to low consumers.

Let’s consider that again: dairy intake is “one of the most consistent dietary predictors for prostate cancer in the published literature,” and those who consume the most dairy have double to quadruple the risk.

Another review of published literature done in 1998 reached a similar conclusion:

  • In ecologic data, correlations exist between per capita meat and dairy consumption and prostate cancer mortality rate [one study cited]. In case control and prospective studies, the major contributors of animal protein, meats, dairy products and eggs have frequently been associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer … [twenty-three studies cited]. Of note, numerous studies have found an association primarily in older men [six studies cited] though not all [one study cited] …. The consistent associations with dairy products could result from, at least in part, their calcium and phosphorous content.

In other words, an enormous body of evidence shows that animal-based foods are associated with prostate cancer. In the case of dairy, the high intake of calcium and phosphorus also could be partly responsible for this effect.

This research leaves little room for dissent; each of the above studies represents analyses of over a dozen individual studies, providing an impressive bulk of convincing literature.”

Campbell, T. Colin; Thomas M. Campbell II (2006-06-01). The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet (p177 to 179)

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