Men with early stage prostate cancer who make intensive changes in dietand lifestyle may stop or perhaps even reverse the progression of theirillness, according to a new study.
The research is the first randomized, controlled trial showing thatlifestyle changes may affect the progression of any type of cancer.Study findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of Urology.
The study was directed by Dean Ornish, MD, clinical professor,and Peter Carroll, MD, chair of the Department of Urology, both of theUniversity of California, San Francisco, and the late William Fair, MD,chief of urologic surgery and chair of urologic oncology, MemorialSloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
The research team studied 93 men with biopsy-proven prostatecancer who had elected not to undergo conventional treatment forreasons unrelated to this study. The participants were randomly dividedinto either a group who were asked to make comprehensive changes indiet and lifestyle or a comparison group who were not asked to do so.
After one year, the researchers found that PSA levels (aprotein marker for prostate cancer) decreased in men in the group whomade comprehensive lifestyle changes but increased in the comparisongroup. There was a direct correlation between the degree of lifestylechange and the changes in PSA. Also, they found that serum from theparticipants inhibited prostate tumor growth in vitro by 70 percent inthe lifestyle-change group but only 9 percent in the comparison group.Again, there was a direct correlation between the degree of lifestylechange and the inhibition of prostate tumor growth.
Participants in the lifestyle-change group were placed on avegan diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, whole grains,and legumes supplemented with soy, vitamins and minerals. Theyparticipated in moderate aerobic exercise, yoga/meditation, and aweekly support group session. A registered dietitian was available forconsultation, and a nurse case manager contacted the participants oncea week for the first three months and weekly thereafter.
None of the lifestyle-change participants had conventionalprostate cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapyduring the study, but six members of the comparison group underwentconventional treatments because their disease progressed. Patients inthe lifestyle-change group also reported marked improvements in qualityof life.
According to Carroll, "This study provides important newinformation for men with prostate cancer and all men who hope toprevent it. This is the first in a series of trials attempting tobetter identify the exact role of diet and lifestyle in the preventionand treatment of prostate cancer."
"Changes in diet and lifestyle that we found in earlierresearch could reverse the progression of coronary heart disease mayalso affect the progression of prostate cancer as well. These findingssuggest that men with prostate cancer who undergo conventionaltreatments may also benefit from making comprehensive lifestylechanges," said Ornish, who is also founder and president of thenon-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute. "This adds newevidence that changing diet and lifestyle may help to prevent prostatecancer."
The researchers are continuing to follow these patients todetermine the effects of their changes in diet and lifestyle onmorbidity and mortality.
The research was funded by the Department of Defense via the HenryJackson Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the NationalInstitutes of Health, the UCSF Prostate Cancer Specialized Program ofResearch Excellence, the Buckshaum Family Foundation, Highmark, Inc.,the Koch Foundation, the Ellison Foundation, the Fisher Foundation, theGallin Foundation, the Resnick Foundation, the Safeway Foundation, theWalton Family Foundation and the Wynn Foundation.
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