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Prostate cancer, a diet rich in vegetables improves sexual life after treatment

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Prostate cancer, a diet rich in vegetables improves sexual life after treatment

In Italy, prostate cancer is the most common tumor in the male population and represents 18.5 percent of all tumors diagnosed in men, with over 36 thousand new cases estimated per year. But despite a high incidence, 92% of patients are alive five years after diagnosis: one of the highest percentages in oncology, especially if we take into account the average age of patients with prostate cancer, which is generally high. . But prostate cancer is very frightening, also because the effects of the treatments are very frightening, as they can substantially change the quality of life of patients and their most intimate relationships. We are talking about a sense of tiredness, weight gain, hot flashes, difficulty controlling urination, but also reduced libido and erectile dysfunction. Now, a study carried out by researchers from New York University, Harvard, the University of California in San Francisco, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, has shown that limiting the consumption of meat and cheese in favor of fruit, vegetables, cereals and nuts reduce the side effects of treatments.

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Sexual function, urinary control and hormonal health

Based on the proportion of plant foods compared to those of animal origin that the patients themselves said they consumed, the authors divided a sample of over 3,500 men with prostate cancer into five groups: from the most vegetarian (the one with a higher intake of vegetables high compared to the intake of animal foods) to the least vegetarian (on the contrary, with the lowest portion plant food). Finding that the more vegetarian group scored 8-11% better than the less vegetarian group in the assessment of sexual function. Same thing for urinary health (incontinence, irritation): the difference in scores between the strongest vegetable consumers and the worst vegetable and fruit consumers was also 14%, in favor of the former naturally. And by 13% when hormonal health was measured (exhaustion, depression, hot flashes).

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Also as prevention

Previous studies signed by the same authors of this study had already shown that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of getting prostate cancer. And other researchers, in men in general, not in those with prostate cancer, had linked a plant-rich diet to a lower risk of erectile dysfunction. Now a new piece is added to the knowledge of the relationship between food, prostate and sexual health. Instead, this just came out on Cancer It is probably the first study to demonstrate that prostate cancer patients who consume more vegetables can experience better urinary health.

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Good results, little effort

“Our findings provide hope for those seeking to improve their quality of life after undergoing surgery, radiation and other prostate cancer therapies, which can have significant side effects,” said Stacy Loeb, professor of Urology and Health of the population at New York University and lead author of the study. But “increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables, while reducing that of meat and dairy products, is a simple thing – added Loeb – that all patients can do”. The study used data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, a survey started in 1986 and still ongoing sponsored by the Harvard medical faculty which collects information from over 50,000 male healthcare professionals (dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists and veterinarians) to investigate a series of hypotheses on male health by relating nutritional factors to the incidence of serious diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. In this context, men who had received a diagnosis of prostate cancer answered a questionnaire every four years about the types of foods they consumed and in what proportions. Another survey instead assessed every two years the frequency of incontinence, difficulties in maintaining an erection and intestinal, tiredness and mood problems.

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The next steps

Consuming high amounts of any plant-based food was linked in this study to better sexual health, urinary health, and higher vitality scores, regardless of demographic factors, lifestyle differences, or other health concerns. such as diabetes. Consuming more vegetables also improved intestinal function, a fact that can easily be explained given the increased fiber intake. The next step will be to increase the variability of the sample to be studied, that is, to expand the research to a more diversified group of patients (for example to non-healthcare workers) and to men with more advanced disease, given that in this study the great majority – over 80% – had had early-stage disease.

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