A heart-healthy diet, and even moderate alcohol intake, may help decrease the risk of prostate problems in men, a new study has found.
The study showed that a high-fat diet increased the risk of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia, known as BPH (a condition associated with frequent and painful urination that affects about half of all men by the time they reach 50 and nearly all men by age 70), by 31 percent and daily consumption of red meat increased the risk of BPH by 38 percent.
The study also found that eating four or more servings of vegetables daily was associated with a 32 percent reduction in risk, consuming high amounts of lean protein was linked to 15 percent risk reduction, and that regular, moderate alcohol consumption was linked to 38 percent decline in BPH risk.
'It is known that obesity increases the risk of BPH. The dietary pattern that is associated with obesity among men in the United States is high fat consumption. The results of this study clearly show a link between a high-fat diet and increased risk of BPH,' said lead author Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H, member and associate head of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center.
In the study, Kristal and his colleagues found small, incremental increases in BPH risk as fat intake increased, with the most substantial risk, more than 30 percent, among men who got about 40 percent of their calories from fat.
Kristal said that high fat intake increases the body's overall inflammatory response and it also increases levels of circulating hormones such as estrogens and androgens, both of which may affect prostate tissue.
In contrast, a low fat, high vegetable and moderate alcohol consumption pattern is associated with less obesity, lower circulating estrogens and androgens and less stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.
'It is possible that these physiological effects moderate both the hormonally regulated prostate growth and heightened smooth-muscle tone that cause BPH,' the researchers said.
Kristal said that the mechanism by which moderate alcohol consumption appears to protect against BPH might be due to its effects on the production and metabolism of testosterone.
Moderate alcohol use lowers circulating hormones and decreases muscle tone of the prostate.
The study is published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.