Arab men in the region will face significantly higher risk of prostate cancer if they adopt too much Western-style food, according to Dr David Levy, a urologist at Cleveland Clinic in the United States.
Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer worldwide and is most common in wealthier nations.
Recently released data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that Norway, Sweden and Ireland had 10 times more instances of prostate cancer as the Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Jordan.
Dr. Levy said that Middle Eastern men could face greater risk if they adopt Western-style diets in place of traditional meals. In the US, he said second-generation Arab-Americans suffer “far higher” levels of the disease than their counterparts in the MENA region.
“When you drink sugary sodas and fruit juice and eat candy, cakes and animal-based protein, your insulin resistance factors go up, your glycemic index changes and you adversely affect the fatty acid ratios,” he said.
“You have changed the entire environment in which the cells live. And that changes the genetic behaviour,” he added. “It is a lifestyle dietary response, resulting in an environmental change that, in my mind, as far as we can tell, invites an increased incidence of prostate cancer.”
Meat, dairy problematic
Dr. Levy also said that meat and dairy produce is particularly problematic because of the distribution of fatty acids within these foods. While both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential nutrients, Dr. Levy said that the quantities of the latter should not exceed the former by more than five times.
“The fatty acid ratios in the blood that are associated with animal protein consumption are consistent with higher trends in prostate cancer diagnosis,” he said. “If you change the diet, you change the immune system responses from the small intestines, which then have cascading events genetically throughout the body.”
Red meat, dairy and sugar, Dr. Levy added, are also associated with metabolic syndrome, which are a “cluster” of biochemical and physiological abnormalities associated with cardiovascular disease.
“Men with all these conditions have an increased likelihood of developing prostate cancer – and they are far more common amongst followers of the Westernised diet than of those on Mediterranean or plant-based diets. We see the correlation not only with prostate cancer, but also breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer.”