A plant-based diet is associated with multiple health and environmental benefits. Previous studies suggest a beneficial role of specific plant-based foods, and a harmful role for some animal-based foods for prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction; however, little is known about plant-based dietary patterns and PSA levels, prostate cancer risk or erectile dysfunction. Three new studies demonstrating the positive impact plant-based diets can have on the health of men were presented during a special virtual press session at the 2021 American Urological Association Annual Meeting. The press session was moderated by Stacy Loeb, MD, AUA Spokesperson and Professor of Urology and Population Health at New York University Langone Health, as well as the Manhattan Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Impact of Plant-Based Diet on PSA Level: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
In this study, researchers sought to determine if an association exists between plant-based dietary content and PSA levels. Data on demographics, diet and PSA levels of men enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) were used for. A Plant-based diet index (PDI) and healthful plant-based diet index (hPDI) were then calculated using food frequency questionnaires.
- There is a significant association between increased consumption of a healthy plant-based diet and lower PSA levels.
- This finding may be incorporated into the shared-decision making process with patients to promote healthier lifestyle choices to reduce the likelihood of prostate biopsy and potential downstream morbidity.
Association of Plant-Based Dietary Patterns with Prostate Cancer Risk
For prostate cancer, previous studies suggest a beneficial role of specific plant-based foods (e.g., tomatoes with lycopene) and a potentially harmful role of specific animal-based foods (e.g., meat and dairy). However, less is known about plant-based dietary patterns and prostate cancer risk. This prospective study included 47,239 men who were followed for up to 28 years in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Plant-based dietary indices were calculated using data from food frequency questionnaires collected every four years.
- Greater overall plant-based consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of fatal prostate cancer.
- In addition to well-established benefits for general health and the environment, data from this prospective study provide supportive evidence that greater consumption of healthful plant-based foods may be associated with a lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer, with the strongest results among younger men.
Plant-Based Diets are Associated with Decreased Risk of Erectile Dysfunction
To evaluate the association between a plant-based diet and erectile dysfunction, researchers collected data from 2,549 men in the national health and nutrition examination survey (NHANES) database. Using the food frequency questionnaire, an overall healthful plant-based diet index (hPDI) was developed. A multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the association between erectile dysfunction and hPDI.
- In a well-characterized national database, it was shown a healthful plant-based diet is associated with less chance of having erectile dysfunction.
“Increased consumption of a healthy plant-based diet has significant benefits for urologic and sexual health,” said Dr. Stacy Loeb. “These three studies show that dietary interventions can make positive impacts for overall health, as well as, specific urologic conditions faced by millions of men.”