Greater intake of some fatty acids is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer (PCa), with the risk increasing along with consumption, according to a new study.

The finding is based on data obtained from 1903 men enrolled in a prospective cohort from 2000 to 2010 as part of the SABOR [San Antonio Biomarkers of Risk) study and who had completed food frequency questionnaires. PCa was subsequently diagnosed in 229 of these men.

The nutrient with the strongest association with PCa was stearic acid. As baseline intake of stearic acid increased from one quintile to the next, the risk of PCa increased by 23%, Michael A. Liss, MD, of the University of Texas Health San Antonio, and colleagues reported in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Disease. Each successive quintile of baseline intake of total trans-fatty acids, total saturated fatty acids, gamma-tocopherol, and total fat was associated with a significant 21%, 19%, 15%, and 11% increased risk of PCa, respectively.

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Omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) or any individual PUFAs were not associated with PCa risk.

Previous studies have linked dietary fat to PCa risk, but Dr Liss and his colleagues said their analysis is the first to demonstrate a dose-dependent predictive value of fatty acid intake on future PCa risk.

“These findings add further evidence that the intake of dietary fat is an important predictor of prostate cancer risk, and dietary modification of fatty acid intake may reduce this risk,” Dr Liss and his team concluded. “With a renewed interest in prostate cancer screening particularly for patients at high risk, dietary modification could be considered as a prevention strategy.”

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The PCa group was significantly older than men not diagnosed with PCa (mean aged at baseline 61.7 vs 58.7 years) and they had a significantly higher mean baseline PSA level (2.37 vs 1.29 ng/mL) and a significantly lower body mass index (27.15 vs 28.26 kg/m2). The PCa group also had a higher proportion of men with a family history of PCa (39.7% vs 21.4%).

The SABOR study is a National Cancer Institute Early Detection Research Network-sponsored Clinical and Epidemiologic Validation Center. It includes a multi-ethnic cohort of 3880 men from San Antonio and other south Texas areas.

Although the study has limitations, it is strengthened by the large sample, prospective ascertainment of PCa case, high PCa event rate, the ability to control for confounding variables, and regular protocol-specified follow-up.


Liss A, Al-Bayati O, Gelfond J, et al. Higher baseline dietary fat and fatty acid intake is associated with increased risk of incident prostate cancer in the SABOR study. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2018; published online ahead of print.