Harvard Men's Health Watch

Reducing prostate cancer risk: Good news, bad news, or no new news?

Prostate cancer is an important disease; in fact, it's the most common internal malignancy in American men. Prostate cancer is a variable disease; many cases are slow growing, even harmless, but some cases are aggressive and even lethal. And it's a puzzling disease; some cases are passed down from father to son, but most occur without apparent rhyme or reason.

Important, variable, and puzzling — it is no wonder that men pay attention when research reports that common dietary elements appear to reduce risk. Two studies have attracted a lot of press; both contain surprising information, but to understand what they mean for you, you'll have to dig behind the headlines and sound bites.

Fat chance

Most experts believe that diet has a major impact on the risk of developing prostate cancer. The prevailing wisdom is that trans fats and saturated fats increase risk, while omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, especially the fats in fish oil, are protective. But good scientists are not satisfied with received wisdom, so a team of researchers from around the U.S. set out to validate the hypothesis.

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