We are constantly hearing about possible ways to control prostate cancer through diet.

Often, researchers point out that in Asian cultures, even in the cultures that have a similar rate of prostate cancer, the disease seems to progress in Western cultures, but not in the Asian cultures. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the January 2013 issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research shows that the reason may be due to a high-fiber diet.

The cited study compared a group of mice fed with of inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), a major component of high-fiber diets, to a group of control mice that were not. The researchers then used an MRI to monitor the progression of prostate cancer in these mice.

“The study’s results were really rather profound. We saw dramatically reduced tumor volumes, primarily due to the anti-angiogenic effects of IP6,” says Komal Raina, PhD, research instructor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, working in the lab of CU Cancer Center investigator and School of Pharmacy faculty member, Rajesh Agarwal, PhD.

The researchers found that by feeding the investigational group the active ingredient of the high-fiber diet their prostate tumors did not make the new blood vessels they needed to supply themselves with energy. Without this blood supply the prostate cancer couldn’t progress and grow. They also found that the mice treated with IP6 had a slowed rate at which prostate cancer tumors metabolized glucose.

Possible mechanisms for the effect of IP6 against metabolism include a reduction in a protein called GLUT-4, which is instrumental in transporting glucose.

Since there has long been an understanding that prostate cancer seems different between Asian men and their counterparts in the west there has been a search for genetic variations between these groups, but now it seems as if the difference may not be genetic but dietary. According to Dr. Raina, Asian cultures consume IP6 whereas Western cultures generally do not.

The next step needs to be an actual trial using men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer to see if the results would be similar.

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.