Men with a high dietary fat intake are at increased risk of prostate cancer at a relatively young age, a British study shows.

Among men aged 60 years or younger, those in the highest quintile of total fat intake or saturated fat intake had a significant 2.5 times increased risk of prostate cancer compared with men in the lowest quintile after adjusting for confounding variables, investigators reported in the British Journal of Nutrition (2009; published online ahead of print). Men in the highest quintile of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated had a significant 2.7 and 2.3 times increased risk.

Total fat intake was significantly greater among prostate cancer patients than controls (99.40 vs. 86.45 g/day, a 13% difference).

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The study, led by Artitaya Lophatananon, PhD, and Ken Muir, PhD, of the Health Sciences Research Institute at Warwick Medical School in Coventry, U.K., included 512 cases and 838 age-matched controls. The mean age of cases (at diagnosis) and controls was 55.7 years. Researchers obtain dietary and other information from questionnaires filled out by study participants.

If the association between dietary fat intake and prostate cancer is causal, about 42% of prostate cancer cases in the study, on average, could be attributed to increased fat intake (greater than 64.8 g/day).

“These results potentially identify a modifiable risk factor for early-onset prostate cancer,” the authors concluded.