Diet, Lifestyle Changes Slow Progression of Prostate Cancer
A comprehensive program of dietary and lifestyle changes led to a significant slowing of the progression of prostate cancer, according to preliminary reports of an ongoing clinical trial.
In this new study, conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish, 40 people newly diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer were asked to undergo major dietary and lifestyle changes. The recommendations included a low-fat vegetarian diet, smoking cessation, stress management training, and moderate exercise. Another 40 people with early-stage prostate cancer received no treatment, and served as a control group. Three months after enrollment, the researchers measured a blood marker called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which provides a rough estimate of disease progression.
The men who received no treatment showed no change in their PSA levels. In contrast, men who followed the Ornish protocol had an average PSA decrease of 6.5%, a finding suggestive of disease regression. Those who followed the program most diligently were found to have more significant PSA reductions than those who were not as strict. None of the participants who followed the Ornish program required more aggressive therapy due to disease progression, whereas seven people in the control group did require such therapy.
An estimated 198,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in American men this year. Many of these men, if diagnosed with in the early stages of the disease, will opt for no immediate treatment (called “watchful waiting”). If the disease continues to progress, then other treatments such as hormonal manipulation, surgery, or radiation will be recommended. This new study suggests that men who opt for watchful waiting may, in fact, be able to take an active role in the treatment of their disease.
A highly publicized clinical trial published by Dr. Ornish in 1990 showed that the same diet and lifestyle program could slow or reverse the process of hardening of the arteries. A number of hospitals in many major metropolitan areas across the country have departments that teach the Ornish program.
The new report, presented at the 2002 International Scientific Conference of Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine Research at Harvard University, describes the earliest results of a study designed to last several years. It is not known at this time whether following the Ornish program will improve survival rates in people with prostate cancer.
This is the first clinical trial showing a beneficial effect of dietary and lifestyle changes after a cancer diagnosis. While this program appears to be useful for those with early-stage prostate cancer, the diet may not be appropriate for all people diagnosed with cancer. For those with advanced cancers, fat and protein needs are thought to be greater, and may not be met by this diet.
Matt Brignall, ND, is in practice at the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center and at the Evergreen Integrative Medicine Clinic in Kirkland, WA. He specializes in integrative treatment of cancer. He is a contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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