New Zealand Researchers Determine Mediterranean Diet Decreased DNA Damage in Men With Prostate Cancer

Researchers found that adherence to a modified Mediterranean diet decreased DNA damage than can lead to the development of tumors. According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. U.S: 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. American Cancer Society estimates a staggering 220,800 new cases and 27,540 deaths from prostate cancer in 2015.


Risk factors for prostate cancer are heavily age and family history. Another major modifiable risk factor is diet. Dietary fat intake plays a critical role in promoting oxidative stress and in the development of prostate cancerous tumors.

Normal cells become cancerous with oxidative stress brought on by an imbalance of antioxidants and reactive oxygen species and thus leads to DNA damage. Some mutations caused by DNA damage may lead to the development of tumors.

Animal fat, trans fat and saturated fats such as those present in the Western diet have been heavily associated with prostate specific antigen levels, increased risk of prostate cancer and death due to prostate cancer.

CONTRAST: Monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and vegetable fats which are heavily present in Mediterranean diet associated with decreased risk of developing prostate cancer.

Study from University of Auckland, New Zealand published in journal, Nutrients. Researchers asked 20 men with prostate cancer to adopt a modified Mediterranean style dietary intervention for 3 months. At end of 3 month period, scientists  assessed DNA damage using alkaline comet assay which is an ideal biomarker for the assessment of the influence of food on cancer.

·         Diet must’ve included:           

o   30-50 grams of mixed unsalted seeds

o   15 mL of extra virgin olive oil

o   Oily fight once a week

o   Diet reduced dairy intake to one portion daily

o   Substituted butter with olive oil based spread

o   Decreased red meat intake to less than 400 grams

o   Required to avoid processed meats

o   Avoid meats cooked at high temperatures

o   Substitute red meat with oily fish or white meat

·         Results:

o   Found DNA damage decreased as adherence to modified Med.  Diet increased

o   Concluded inverse association between olive oil intake and DNA damage

o   DNA damage was reported to increased with increased consumption of dairy products and red meat

o   Higher levels of whole blood monounsaturated fatty acids and oleic acid were associated with decreased DNA damage

o   High levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids were associated with increased DNA damage

o   Men also lost weight and had a better generally well-being at the end of the 3-month period

Results indicate changing the western dietary pattern to the modified Mediterranean dietary pattern that includes fish and olive oil can be beneficial in decreasing DNA damage in men with prostate cancer