Reducing Risk of Prostate Cancer Progression Through Plant-Based Diets With Vivian Liu

At the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, Vivian Liu, Lead Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Osher Center for Integrative Health, presented her study investigating the association between plant-based diets and risk of disease progression in men with prostate cancer. In this follow-up interview, Ms. Liu shares additional insights into the positive health benefits of a plant-based diet for prostate cancer patients and survivors.  

Oncology Data Advisor: What prompted you to investigate the association between plant-based diets and prostate cancer disease progression?

Vivian Liu: Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Market statistics show rapid growth in sales of plant-based products and a further boost during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also reports that recommend a global shift to plant-based diets as essential to combat climate change and biodiversity loss.

However, these diets have not been adequately studied in the context of prostate cancer. Given the growing interest in plant-based food at the population level, we evaluated post-diagnosis intake of plant-based diets in relation to clinical and quality-of-life outcomes for the most common cancer among men in the United States, to inform the design of interventions, mechanistic studies, and evidenced-based recommendations for prostate cancer survivors.

Oncology Data Advisor: What is the significance of the results that your study found?

Ms. Liu: Progressing to advanced disease is one of many pivotal concerns among patients with prostate cancer, their family, their caregivers, and their physicians. These findings may directly inform clinical care—such as providing diet recommendations as guidance for managing their health—and reduce morbidity for the most common cancer facing US men, in addition to having other positive health benefits for preventing other chronic diseases.

These findings may directly inform clinical care—such as providing diet recommendations as guidance for managing their health—and reduce morbidity for the most common cancer facing US men, in addition to having other positive health benefits for preventing other chronic diseases.

Oncology Data Advisor: Do you have any next steps for the study or future research?

Ms. Liu: We plan to conduct analyses looking at post-diagnostic plant-based diets in relation to prostate cancer–specific mortality. We also plan to examine the plant-based dietary indices in relation to prostate cancer–specific quality of life at two, five, and 10 years from baseline.

Oncology Data Advisor: Based on these results, how do you recommend that prostate cancer survivors be counseled regarding diet and exercise?

Ms. Liu: Consuming a whole foods plant-based diet—the more, the better—may decrease risk for recurrence and improve overall survivorship. I would also like to note that I don’t think there is a one-size diet that fits all, when you also need to consider things like genetics and/or metabolism, as much as we’d like to hope there is! While these findings are supportive of a plant-based diet in relation to prostate cancer outcomes, there is a possibility that it may not work for everyone. There is some evidence for beneficial outcomes in other popular diets, such as the Mediterranean diets or low-carbohydrate diets, but I don’t do research on these and can’t speak much on this.

Oncology Data Advisor: This is such an interesting study, so thanks very much for telling us more about it.

About Ms. Liu

Vivian Liu is the Lead Clinical Research Coordinator at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Health. She is currently coordinating the LEGEND study, focusing on diabetes education to lower insulin and sugars. Ms. Liu has also coauthored a study investigating a web-based dietary intervention using text messaging for patients with colorectal cancer.

For More Information

Liu VN, Van Blarigan EL, Zhang L, et al (2023). Associations between plant-based diets and risk of disease progression in men with prostate cancer. J Clin Oncol (ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium Abstracts), 41(suppl_6). Abstract 392. DOI:10.1200/JCO.2023.41.6_suppl.392.

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 


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