Can a Plant-Based Diet Improve Prostate Cancer Outcomes?


MEAL Study aims to find out

Many men with early-stage, non-aggressive prostate cancer choose to take a “wait and watch” approach to the disease, undergoing active surveillance — regular monitoring — instead of entering treatment right away. But if they’re not in active treatment, what can they do to improve their odds against the disease?

There’s some evidence that a diet heavy in red meat and dairy products can increase the risk of developing metastatic prostate cancer (prostate cancer that spreads to other parts of the body), and that a healthy diet can reduce that risk. Research is underway to find out if a diet low in animal products and rich in fruits and vegetables can improve outcomes for prostate cancer patients.

That’s the basis of the Men’s Eating and Living (MEAL) study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, the Department of Defense, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. James Mohler, MD, Associate Director and Senior Vice President for Translational Research and Chair of Urology, is leading the study here at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study will be conducted over two years. Although we will collect information from study participants about issues other than diet, we will intervene only on diet.

Participants will be divided into two groups. Men in both groups will be asked to follow U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines, and their eating habits and disease status will be monitored at regular points during the study. However, members of Group A will receive 22 telephone counseling sessions (approximately one per month) to provide support as they change their eating habits, and will be encouraged to make more rigorous changes to their diet. Group B will not receive any phone support.

The MEAL Study is now closed to new accrual.