High-fat diet makes prostate cancer grow faster

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In a recent study from McGill University, researchers found that saturated fat intake induces a cellular reprogramming that is linked to prostate cancer progression.

They found that when patients eat a high-fat diet, prostate cancer can progress faster and be deadlier.

The findings could have a clinical utility in identifying patients at higher risk of a more aggressive, lethal disease.

In addition, the researchers suggest that the reduction of animal fat, and specifically saturated fat intake in men with early-stage prostate cancer, could possibly diminish or delay the risk of disease progression.

Some genes—called oncogenes—play a role in cancer initiation and progression. MYC is one of those.

In the study, the researchers showed that by mimicking an MYC overexpression, saturated fat intake makes prostate cancer worse.

MYC overexpression profoundly rewires cellular programs. MYC induces malignant properties in normal cells and fuels the growth of cancer cells.

Based on answers to food questionnaires, the researchers were able to stratify prostate cancer patients based on their fat intake—high-fat diet vs. low-fat diet—and the type of fat they were eating—either saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat.

By integrating dietary and gene expression data from 319 patients, they discovered that animal fat and specifically saturated fat consumption mimicked an MYC overexpression.

They confirmed their findings in experiments using a murine prostate cancer model.

Strikingly, patients who had the highest level of saturated fat intake MYC signature were four times more likely to die from prostate cancer, compared to patients with the lowest level.

Since fat consumption could be linked to an increase in body fat and obesity, and since obesity is also a risk factor linked to prostate cancer, the team used the Body Mass Index (BMI) to make sure that it was only saturated fat intake—and not obesity—that promoted the progression to metastatic and lethal disease.

The study provides a basis to develop clinical tools aimed at reducing the consumption of saturated fat and increasing the odds of surviving.

The findings suggest that many prostate cancer patients may benefit from therapies targeting MYC transcriptional activity or from dietary interventions targeting metabolic addictions regulated by MYC.

Knowing the dietary pattern of a patient or his level of physical activity, clinicians could eventually suggest some interventions to decrease the progression of a lethal disease.

If you care about prostate cancer, please read studies that dairy foods may increase men’s risk of prostate cancer, and a new strategy to treat advanced prostate cancer.

For more information about prostate cancer, please see recent studies about a new way to lower the risk of prostate cancer spread, and results showing three-drug combo boosts survival in metastatic prostate cancer.

The study was published in Nature Communications and conducted by Dr. David P. Labbé et al.

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