Plant-Based Diet Linked To Improved Sexual Health In Males With Prostate Cancer

The findings also showed a 14 per cent improvement in urinary health, with reduced occurrences of incontinence, obstruction, and irritation.
Plant-Based Diet Linked To Improved Sexual Health In Males With Prostate Cancer
Plant-Based Diet Linked To Improved Sexual Health In Males With Prostate CancerREPRESENTATIVE

Based on a recent research, a diet that includes fewer meat and dairy products but more fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts is linked to reduced occurrences of erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, and other common side effects in individuals with prostate cancer.

Conducted by NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a study involving over 3,500 men with prostate cancer investigated the potential impact of a predominantly plant-based diet on post-treatment quality of life. The researchers categorized the patients into five groups based on their reported consumption of plant and animal foods and discovered that the group consuming the highest proportion of plants exhibited 8 per cent to 11 per cent better scores in sexual function measures compared to the group consuming the lowest proportion.

The findings also showed a 14 per cent improvement in urinary health, with reduced occurrences of incontinence, obstruction, and irritation. Additionally, the study found a 13 per cent enhancement in hormonal health, which evaluates symptoms such as low energy, depression, and hot flashes, among those with the highest quintile of plant-based diet compared to the lowest.

"Our findings offer hope for those looking for ways to improve their quality of life after undergoing surgery, radiation, and other common therapies for prostate cancer, which can cause significant side effects," said study lead author and urologist Stacy Loeb, MD. "Adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet, while reducing meat and dairy, is a simple step that patients can take," added Loeb, a professor in the Departments of Urology and Population Health at NYU Langone Health.

Prostate cancer ranks as one of the most prevalent and lethal types of cancer in American men, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier studies from the same researchers had already indicated that consuming a plant-based diet could lower the likelihood of developing this disease. Additional research has also linked this diet to a reduced risk of sexual dysfunction in general, although the specific impact on individuals with prostate cancer, who face a particularly high risk of such problems, has not been fully explored.

The latest research, released online on February 13 in the journal Cancer, is thought to be the first of its kind to demonstrate improved urinary health in these patients through nutrition, according to Loeb.

The research involved the analysis of data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, a continuous investigation initiated in 1986 and supported by Harvard Chan School. The dataset contains details on over 50,000 male dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists, and veterinarians. This project aimed to enhance understanding of the impact of nutrition on risks associated with cancer, heart disease, and other severe ailments.

As part of the study, men diagnosed with prostate cancer completed a survey every four years detailing their dietary habits. Another survey, conducted every two years, assessed issues such as incontinence, erectile dysfunction, bowel problems, energy levels, and mood, among other health concerns. The majority of the patients (over 83 per cent) had undergone treatment for prostate cancer, and all participants in the study had early-stage cancer that had not spread to other parts of the body. The research team also considered factors like weight, physical activity, and other variables that could impact quality of life when exploring potential links between a plant-based diet and overall health.

The researchers found that consuming a large quantity of plant-based foods was associated with improved sexual health, urinary health, and vitality scores, regardless of demographic factors, lifestyle differences, or history of other medical issues like diabetes. Additionally, consuming more healthy plant-based foods was linked to better bowel function, possibly due to the dietary fiber present in plants, according to Loeb.

"These results add to the long list of health and environmental benefits of eating more plants and fewer animal products," said Loeb. "They also clearly challenge the historical misconception that eating meat boosts sexual function in men, when in fact the opposite seems to be the case."

Loeb warns that the individuals examined in the research were predominantly White healthcare workers. Consequently, she explains that the team intends to broaden their study to include a more varied range of patients and those in more advanced stages of the illness.

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