Men who eat more saturated fats are at greater risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer than those with a healthier diet, Melbourne scientists have found.
The international study, initiated by experts at Monash and the University of Melbourne, found fatty acids are taken up into prostate cancer cells, increasing tumour growth.
Researchers then blocked the uptake of fatty acid and showed they could slow the cancer’s development.
“There is a strong link between obesity, diet and poor outcomes in men who develop prostate cancer. In particular, those men who consume more saturated fatty acids seem to have more aggressive cancer,” Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute Associate Professor Renea Taylor said.
“Our whole concept is about giving more appropriate treatment earlier to stop men getting to the late or advanced stage. Blocking fatty acid transport is one way to do this.”
Research co-leader, University of Melbourne physiology department head Matthew Watt, said it was “deeply satisfying” to prove the evidence to develop a therapy, to treat a disease affecting so many men.
He said the major clinical challenge in the field was to prevent progression to aggressive disease.
Prostate cancer is the second most diagnosed cancer in men in Australia, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report.
It accounts for 15 per cent of male cancer diagnoses and eight per cent of all cancer cases.
More than 17,700 estimated new cases were diagnosed last year.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, the Diabetes Australia Research Trust and Cancer Council Victoria funded the research.