Sperling Prostate Center

A Plant-Based “3-fer” For Men’s Health

UPDATE: 5/10/2024
Originally published 1/3/2022

Evidence continues to pile up in favor of beneficial plant-based eating plans for men with prostate cancer (PCa).

As of this writing, the latest study on this topic, “Plant-Based Diets and Disease Progression in Men With Prostate Cancer”[i], was published in JAMA on May 1, 2024.

The study population was 2062 PCa patients whose case records included a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). The FFQ scores were the basis for determining if diets were plant-based or not. The authors recorded 190 cases in which PCa progressed, and 61 PCa-specific deaths.

Men in the highest 20% of plant-based eating had 47% less risk of PCa progression, and for those with Gleason grade 7 or higher at diagnosis, those in the highest 20% of plant-based diets had 55% lower risk compared with those in the lowest 20%.

The authors conclude, “In this cohort study of 2062 men with prostate cancer, higher intake of plant foods after prostate cancer diagnosis was associated with lower risk of cancer progression.”

This summary adds to the 3-fer benefits identified in the original blog below, adding up to a 4-fer knockout for plant benefits during PCa.


“Eat more plants for your prostate and your erections.” – Stacy Loeb, MD

If you’ve been following our blogs, you’ve seen many research-based posts on the merits of a healthy diet for men’s health. This includes, of course, cardiovascular and metabolic wellness. In addition, our blogs maintain the position that if it’s good for the heart, it’s good for the prostate. A great example is the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression. How great is that? Even more, what if you knew that the Mediterranean diet “could be better than ‘Viagra’ for erectile dysfunction”? Check out Dr. Ananya Mandal’s 2018 news article on the subject!

Increasingly, we’ve turned our attention to plant-based eating in general, devoting individual blogs to one aspect or another of the benefits gained by reducing or altogether dropping animal protein. This blog is particularly efficient because it includes recent research on three men’s health aspects of turning to vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and plant oils:

  • Reduced likelihood of elevated PSA
  • Lower rate of total and fatal prostate cancer (PCa) in younger men
  • And, as mentioned above, less risk of erectile dysfunction (ED)

It’s like three blogs for the price of one!

A trio of studies

In September, 2021, due to ongoing COVID risks the American Urological Association (AUA) hosted their annual meeting as a virtual event. In a session devoted to nutrition and men’s pelvic health, three different presentations addressed the above points.[ii]

First, Dr. Ali Mouzannar (University of Miami/Miller School of Medicine) reported an analysis of nearly 1400 cases from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). His team correlated plant-based diets with PSA levels. They found that the more plant-based foods consumed, the less probability of having a PSA increase.

Next, Dr. Stacy Loeb (NYU Langone Health) and colleagues turned to the Health Follow-up study for records of 27,243 men (follow-up time up to 28 years). They found that for men age 65 or younger, higher consumption of plant-based foods was linked with lower overall chance of PCa, less risk of advanced PCa, and less risk of dying from PCa. This promising study suggests that the sooner a man begins converting to plant-based, or at least plant-forward, eating, the more he is protecting himself from PCa.

Finally, another research time from U of Miami explored the association between ED and diet, also using NHANES data. As presented by Dr. Ruben Blachman-Braun, over half (57.4%) of the 2,549 men whose cases they chose had some degree of ED. He noted that ED is definitely correlated with aging, body/mass index, high blood pressure, diabetes and history of stroke. However, he remarked that “increasing plant-based consumption was associated with a decreased risk of erectile dysfunction.”[iii] While 2500 cases are fairly persuasive, Dr. Blachman-Braun’s data adds to evidence of a huge study published in November, 2020 by JAMA. Titled “Association of Diet with Erectile Dysfunction Among Men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study,” it was written by a collaborative team from University of California/San Francisco and Harvard Medical School.[iv] According to this paper on 21,469 men with average follow-up of 10.8 years,

…there were 968 incident erectile dysfunction cases among men younger than 60 years, 3703 cases among men aged 60 to less than 70 years, and 4793 cases among men aged 70 years or older. Men younger than 60 years and in the highest category of the Mediterranean Diet score had the lowest relative risk of incident erectile dysfunction compared with men in the lowest category…

To sum up this blog “3-fer,” plant-based foods are a man’s best dietary friends. They keep his PSA low, protect him from deadly PCa, and preserve his erectile function. There’s great wisdom for all of us, and the inner prosperity of a thriving heart and robust sex life is analogous to the 3-fer about a good night’s sleep we learned as kids: healthy, wealthy and wise.

NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.

[i] Liu VN, Van Blarigan EL, Zhang L, et al. Plant-Based Diets and Disease Progression in Men With Prostate Cancer. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(5):e249053.
[ii] Bassett, Mike. “Plant-Based Diet Tied to Better Urological Health in Men.” MedPage Today, Sep. 12, 2021. https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/aua/94471
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Bauer SR, Breyer BN, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB et al. Association of diet with erectile dysfunction among men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Nov; 3(11): e2021701. 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.21701


About Dr. Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Prostate Center.

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