Prostate cancer is 10 times more common in the North America than Japan and preliminary research suggests that differences in diet may be a reason why. There has been much speculation that the Western diet is a factor because when Japanese men move to the U.S. and start eating plenty of high-fat burgers and pizza and less soy, their risk of prostate cancer increases.
Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles examined blood and prostate cancer tissue samples and compared health data from 50 men who had undergone surgery to remove a cancerous prostate gland. Half of the men lived in Japan, while the other half were Los Angeles residents born in the U.S. to Japanese parents. As such, both groups had similar genetic roots.
But there were marked differences in what they ate. The Japanese-American men reported eating a diet substantially higher in animal fat. Not surprisingly, they also had a greater percentage of body fat and higher triglyceride levels in their blood.
The native Japanese men ate more soy than the Japanese-American men. Soy has been thought to possibly offer protection against prostate cancer. "Soy didn't protect these men," the researchers said, "but soy may be protecting many other men who don't get prostate cancer in Japan."
While the prostate cancer samples from the two groups appeared similar, detailed analysis of the tumor cells' genetic material told another story. The DNA was arranged differently, suggesting there may be a gene-nutrient interaction responsible for the differences.
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