Eggs and poultry with skin double prostate cancer recurrence risk

Approximately 1300 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer were followed for two years to document their dietary patterns and recurrence or progression of their disease. In this study, two specific animal foods were found to be risky - the men that ate the most eggs or poultry with skin were twice as likely to have their disease recur or progress.1

This study makes three important points.

  1. Diet does matter, even after a prostate cancer diagnosis.
  2. There is something in chicken, specifically in the crispy outer portion and skin that is powerfully cancer-inducing. Heterocyclic amines, carcinogenic compounds that are formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures, are a probable culprit. A November 2009 study of 175,000 men showed an increase in prostate cancer risk with consumption of barbequed and grilled meat.2
  3. Consumption of eggs and egg whites is not without risk. Eggs are high in animal protein, which has been linked to cancers. Our populations’ idea that more protein is favorable and that egg (whites) are the perfect food does not hold up to scrutiny. Eggs also could affect prostate cancer due to their high choline content – egg consumption increases the amount of choline in the plasma, and high plasma choline increases prostate cancer risk.3 

Four previous studies implementing a plant-based diet and exercise following prostate cancer diagnosis found a decrease in prostate cancer progression rates.4 

Dietary strategy for prostate health 



1. Richman EL et al. Intakes of meat, fish, poultry, and eggs and risk of prostate cancer progression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Dec 30. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Sinha R et al. Meat and meat-related compounds and risk of prostate cancer in a large prospective cohort study in the United States. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Nov 1;170(9):1165-77. Epub 2009 Oct 6.


4. R. W.-L. Ma, K. Chapman. A systematic review of the effect of diet in prostate cancer prevention and treatment. J Hum Nutr Diet, 22, pp. 187–199 

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mrfreddy - January 18, 2010 9:41 AM

Observational studies cannot be used to establish causation, their purpose is to potential causes, which must be further studied with strictly controlled studies before any conclusions can be drawn.

This is an observational study.

So, scientifically speaking, the points the study makes are more accurately stated thusly:

1. Diet MIGHT matter, even after a prostate cancer diagnosis.
2. There MIGHT BE something in chicken, specifically in the crispy outer portion and skin that is powerfully cancer-inducing. 
3. Consumption of eggs and egg whites MIGHT BE risky. Eggs are high in animal protein, which has been linked to cancers (BY OBSERVATIONAL STUDIES, however causation has never been proven.)

Deana Ferreri - January 18, 2010 12:11 PM

True, it is almost impossible to prove anything outright in science.

But this observational study observed a DOUBLING of prostate cancer recurrence rate in individuals who ate large quantities of these particular foods. I think that is enough to warrant being cautious of those foods.

mrfreddy ( - January 18, 2010 1:30 PM

I havent read the study, is that an absolute doubling, or just a doubling of the relative risk? you know, 2% doubles into 4%. Sounds impressive, but isn't.

Anyway, unless you control for things like the carb content of their diet, smoking, all sorts of things, you cannot really conclude anything from this or any other observational study.

Personally, since tumors can only use sugar for fuel, I'll remain cautious about the carb content of my diet.

Deana Ferreri - January 18, 2010 4:02 PM

This was a two-fold relative risk in the highest quantile vs. the lowest quantile of egg (or poultry with skin) consumption.

Just to clarify - it's not true that tumors can only use glucose for fuel. That is only true for the hypoxic (oxygen-deprived) tumor cells, not those with adequate blood supply - those cells prefer lactic acid.

The brain, however, can use glucose and only glucose for fuel.

Dr Eduardo De Stefani - April 18, 2010 9:59 AM

In our studies both cholesterol and eggs intakes were directly associated with a significant increase in prostate cancer risk. The same was found by Dr. Elizabeth Platz from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

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