Cutting down on fried food could lower prostate cancer risk

Men who eat deep-fried food at least once a week may be increasing their risk for developing prostate cancer, show findings from a US study.

"This study adds to the body of evidence suggesting that foods subjected to high meat and/or methods of cooking/processing common in Western diet may represent a potentially modifiable risk factor for prostate cancer," say Janet Stanford (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington) and team, writing in TheProstate.

In an analysis of food-frequency questionnaires from two large population-based case-control studies, men who ate French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, or doughnuts at least once a week had a 37%, 30%, 32%, and 35% greater risk for prostate cancer, respectively, than those who consumed the foods less than once a month.

These effects were observed after adjustment for age, race, family history of prostate cancer, body mass index, prostate-specific antigen (PSA)/digital rectal examination tests in previous 5 years, and education.

The team also observed a trend toward a higher risk for prostate cancer when French fries and doughnuts were eaten between once and three times a month. However, the associations between prostate cancer risk and select deep-fried foods appeared to be primarily confined to at least weekly consumption, suggesting "that it is regular consumption of these deep-fried foods that confers particular risk for development of prostate cancer," say Stanford and team.

Furthermore, there was a slightly stronger association of at least weekly consumption of the fried foods with more aggressive disease, as defined by a Gleason score 8-10 or PSA of 20 ng/mL or higher. Compared with less than monthly consumption, at least weekly intake of French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, and doughnuts increased the risk for more aggressive disease by 41%, 30%, 41%, and 38%, respectively, "suggesting that regular intake of deep-fried foods may contribute to the progression of prostate cancer," add the researchers.

Stanford and colleagues say that the characteristics of oil/fat exposed to high temperatures may be the primary underlying cause of the association.

"Deep frying changes the chemical structure of oils though oxidation and hydrogenation, decreasing unsaturated fats and increasing trans fatty acids. This process generates mutagenic compounds such as aldehydes, which remain in the oil after frying, are incorporated into fried food, and metabolized in the gut," they explain.

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