All of our organs are vital for survival, leaving loss of function in any to be fatal. Cancer often attacks our organs, and can spread elsewhere if left untreated.

But what if a change in our diets could prevent the fatality altogether?

A new study finds that replacing carbohydrates with fats can be beneficial to men with prostate cancer, 28,088 of whom become lethal cases, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A recent study has found that a fatty diet can help to promote survival after a cancer diagnosis by 57 percent. The presence of fats, instead of complex sugars found in carbohydrates, can prevent the survival of cancer cells whose erratic growth causes tumors and thus dysfunctional organs.

Tumor cells proliferate at such a great rate because they use up a lot of the body's blood sugar. If, during a fatty diet, blood sugar is lowered, healthy cells can adjust to using nonsugar-related means of survival, while cancer cells cannot. The presence of fats instead of sugars in the blood therefore ends up killing cancer cells, or at least staving them off for long enough to promote a cancer patient's survival.

However, an increase in fat consumption may worry some cancer patients. Often, after a cancer diagnosis, patients intuitively take any measures necessary to ensure positive health, and increasing fat intake may be counterintuitive. There's no doubt that with or without cancer, a diet high in fat can pose serious risks. Fats remain in the blood longer than sugars do, and in this way, can clog the blood stream. This can cause a whole host of issues, including high blood pressure and increased likelihood of heart disease. However, some fats, like vegetable and plant fat, are less likely to do this.

In a new study by Erin L. Richman, Sc.D., of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and colleagues examined fat intake of 4,577 men diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1986 and 2010. The researchers compared dietary changes and prostate cancer lethality in these men at follow-up appointments for an average of eight years.

Researchers found that on a fatty diet, there was a 29 percent lower risk of prostate cancer worsening and a 26 percent decrease of death after diagnosis.

But which fats lead to the best result?

Many types of food have fats in them, and the fats can vary. Fats can also have different chemical structures, which determine how they are digested by the body. If a fat is saturated, that means it is not easily digested or utilized by the body for energy. These fats build up in the blood because they are not readily used and form harmful clogs in the heart and blood vessels; these fats are mostly found in cheese and red meat. Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are easily utilized by the body for energy and do not build up into dangerous blockages in the blood. These fats are found in fish, nut oils, seeds, and vegetables.

When types of fat consumption were compared, researchers found that among those that had high unhealthy fat intake, an average of 7.4 people still had lethal prostate cancer, while only 4.7 of those consuming vegetable fats still developed lethal prostate cancer. In a comparison of mortality, those consuming large amounts of non-vegetable fat were more likely to die than those consuming vegetable fats — an average of 25.9 people died after consuming other fats, while only 15.4 people died after starting the vegetable fat diet.

It should be noted that those consuming lower amounts of fat were more likely to develop worsened prostate cancer and were more likely to die from it than those consuming higher amounts of fat.

The implications of a higher fat diet have been made clear in previous studies. However, this is the first study to identify a healthy type of fat and a particular cancer that the diet can improve.

This study has further opened a new realm of cancer treatment options that utilize natural methods.

Source: Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Chavarro JE, et al. Fat intake after diagnosis and risk of lethal prostate cancer and all-cause mortality. JAMA. 2013.