Sperling Prostate Center

How a Prostate-Healthy Diet Helps the Whole World

What’s not to love about fun facts? Most of the time they’re composed of trivia, but unlike the supposedly memorable dates you learned in high school history, fun facts tend to stick. For instance, here’s one about food: a single fast-food burger may have meat from 100 different cows! You might never have reason to use that fact, but I bet you won’t forget it.

Some facts are not necessarily fun, but they are important to store in your memory:

  • A diet that is heart-healthy is also prostate healthy.
  • The Western diet (red meat, fried foods, processed foods, etc.) is unhealthy.
  • The Mediterranean and other anti-inflammatory diets are heart and prostate healthy.

And now, thanks to a new research paper by Shah & Merlo (2023)[i] here are some facts about components of the Western diet that are not only not fun, but downright alarming:

  • The world now produces more than 3 times the meat and more than double the milk as it did 50 years ago.
  • Livestock and its supply chain also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
  • Most nitrogen pollution in wastewater is due to animal-based protein sources and inefficient agricultural practices, which lead to acid rain and toxic algal blooms that cause dead zones of aquatic life.
  • Dietary choices are the largest driver of chronic diseases.[ii]

If you’ve been following our blogs, you know that we’ve been promoting plant-based or plant-forward nutrition, as well as anti-inflammatory diets, because of their wellness benefits for the whole person. Thanks to the abundance of published science, there can be no argument in favor of the Western diet— and the U.S. is a top offender. Out of 195 nations, it is the 14th fattest country. In “Obesity and the Western Diet: How We Got Here” the authors write:

…the prevalence of obesity in the United States was 30.5% in 1999. This increased to 42.4% by 2017. In conjunction with this, chronic illnesses associated with obesity such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are now among the top causes of death in the United States. In 2008, the medical cost for obesity was $147 billion. This was $1,429 higher than the cost for non-obese patients.

Several factors have been attributed to this epidemic with the western diet considered to be a major contributor … in the United States. Although current lifestyle trends emphasize the importance of eating healthy, we continue to see foods high in fat and sugar as major components of the Western diet which has corresponded to the steady rise in obesity.[iii]

What constitutes obesity? Many of us picture very rotund people, but most degrees of being overweight are unhealthy because they begin to biochemically tax the body’s cardiovascular and other systems. It’s more subtle than such elephantine mental images. In fact, in terms of body-mass index (BMI), which is a measure of your weight and height, a BMI of 25.0 to <30 is within the overweight range, while BMI of 30.0 or higher is in the obesity range. Obesity and metabolic syndrome are not only dangerous for your heart, they have also been shown to play a causal role in the onset of prostate cancer (PCa), the development of aggressive PCa, worse side effects from prostate cancer treatment, and prostate cancer-specific mortality.[iv]

The point of this blog is, the Western diet not only corrupts your heart and your prostate, the production and consumption of this dietary style endangers the whole planet. I return to Shah & Merlo who eloquently call on doctors to express the urgency and importance of a dietary revolution:

As physicians, providing dietary guidance for overall health may be a worthy consideration. This impact is no longer limited to the personal health of their patients—but rather, broadly impacts the health of the planet (and everyone on it). Increasing consumption of plant-based foods would augment personal health while simultaneously lessening worldwide food scarcity, pollution, and climate change, thereby improving planetary health as an indirect consequence.[v]

This is a worthy message for each one of us, and I hope this blog has provided information that will stick in your mind—and enhance your life choices.

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] Shah UA, Merlo G. Personal and Planetary Health—The Connection With Dietary Choices. JAMA. Published online May 08, 2023.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Rakhra V, Galappaththy SL, Bulchandani S, Cabandugama PK. Obesity and the Western Diet: How We Got Here. Mo Med. 2020 Nov-Dec;117(6):536-538.
[iv] Wilson RL, Taaffe DR, Newton RU, Hart NH, Lyons-Wall P, Galvão DA. Obesity and prostate cancer: A narrative review. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2022 Jan;169:103543.
[v] Shah, Ibid.


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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