Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent or Even Reverse Prostate Cancer
One fall day almost 20 years ago my father called me from his island home in the Florida Keys: “The weather’s been great down here. We had a lucky day fishing off the reef. Caught a Dorado, and we’ll filet and put it on the barbeque later.” My dad had an understated way of describing things, and between the two of us, there was enough silence left in our conversation that I could picture a low sun in a transparent blue sky, taste the salt in the wind and feel the warm clear current as I imagined diving off the bow. The thought of tropical water on my skin was soothing and refreshing….
“By the way, that PSA test you ran on me when I was out last summer. I had them recheck it like you said, and turns out I have prostate cancer.”
Instantly I felt like a hand had grabbed me by my lungs and pulled me from the water. I was back home in the cool Oregon rain.
“They ran a few more tests”, he said, “and they tell me we caught it early.”
Four years later my father was dead. His doctor’s optimism was no match for the cancer that metastasized to his bones and invaded his liver. He had been the dutiful patient, endured mutilating surgeries, a painful recovery, and hormone blockade. He had chosen to go the conventional route, and I have always regretted that perhaps if I had insisted on alternative care he would still be here, watching my two sons grow into men.
Since then I’ve heard similar stories of early optimism, marginally beneficial treatments, and painful side effects. I’ve helped patients navigate the confusing tangle of therapies to find the combination of treatments that fit them and their disease. I’ve promoted diet as a complement to conventional oncology treatments. Now two recent studies have proved that a vegetable-based diet and exercise can slow or even reverse the progression of prostate cancer. And new studies show the power of coffee consumption, vitamin D, and other compounds that decrease the risks of dying from prostate cancer.
Dean Ornish, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, conducted the first randomized controlled clinical trial on the subject. Dr. Ornish and colleagues randomized 87 men with biopsy-documented prostate cancer to an experimental group or a non-intervention control group. Subjects all had prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels of 4 to 10 ng/mL and Gleason scores of less than 7.
This study looked at the simplest lifestyle changes, and while I would have done much more to implement a full treatment regimen, but for research purposes Dr. Ornish needed to keep his study simple:
The first group underwent intensive changes in diet and lifestyle including the following:
- Vegan diet of predominantly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and soy products.
- Soy supplements (one daily serving of tofu plus 58 grams of a isoflavone-rich soy protein beverage.
- Fish oil (3 grams daily), vitamin E (400 IU daily), selenium (200 micrograms daily), and vitamin C (2 grams daily).
- Moderate aerobic exercise (walking 30 minutes six days weekly).
- Stress management techniques (gentle yoga-based stretching, breathing, meditation, imagery, and progressive relaxation for 60 minutes daily).
- Participation in a one-hour support group once weekly to help stick to the program.
Three men in this group dropped out of the study because they said it was too difficult to follow.
The second group was asked to “follow their doctors’ advice” regarding lifestyle changes.
After one year, mean PSA levels decreased by 3% in the experimental group but increased by 7% in the control group (P = .034).
They found that changes in PSA at both three months (P = .047) and one year (P = .007) were directly correlated with adherence to the diet and lifestyle intervention.
“The control group was following the diet 75% as well as the experimental group, yet their PSA rose,” the authors noted.
The researchers also evaluated the growth of the prostate cancer cell line LNCaP and found that the blood of the experimental group inhibited cancer cells by 67% compared with 12% inhibition in the control group (who followed the diet 75%).
In a second study, Dr. Ornish and colleagues followed 93 men whose biopsies had shown they had early prostate cancer. The participants were divided into two groups just like the first study, and all agreed to forgo any conventional prostate cancer treatment.
The researchers then followed PSA blood levels, a marker for prostate cancer progression. A rise in PSA indicates prostate cancer progression that may require treatment. Imaging studies were also done to look for any progression.
No Treatment Required
After one year in the program, average PSA levels decreased by 4% in the intensive diet group but increased by 6% in the second group.
None of the participants in the intensive diet group required treatment due to prostate cancer progression. However, six men in the second group required conventional prostate cancer treatment: surgery, radiation, and/or hormone therapy within the first year.
The researchers took it a step further and found that blood samples from the intensive diet group slowed prostate cancer cell growth by 70% in the lab but only by 9% in the second group.
“Changes in diet and lifestyle that we found in earlier research could reverse the progression of coronary heart disease may also affect the progression of prostate cancer. It is possible that lifestyle changes may have affected the production of PSA without affecting the underlying prostate cancer,” Dr. Ornish said, “but the direct inhibition of LNCaP cells argues against that.”
Coffee lowers the risk by 20-30%
According to recent studies by Kathryn M. Wilson and colleagues at Harvard School of Public Health and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, regular coffee drinking lowers risk of prostate cancers by 20% overall, highest consumption coffee drinkers (6 or more cups per day) were found to have an overall 31% reduction in the risk of lethal prostate cancer. In other words, coffee decreases not only the risk of getting Prostate cancer, but prevents the worst forms of prostate cancer from occurring. The reason? Coffee just may be the highest source of protective phytonutrients in the average American’s diet. Coffee contains many biologically active compounds, including caffeine and phenolic acids, that have potent antioxidant activity and can affect glucose metabolism and sex hormone levels. Because of these biological activities, coffee can help prevent not only prostate cancer, but also lower the risk of cancers of the colon, breast, uterus, mouth, esophagus, and pharynx. And coffee improves insulin management enough to lower the chances of getting Type 2 diabetes by 50%, while it lowers risk of developing Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease, to name a few.
Our IV Vitamin C Protocol
We provide the Intravenous vitamin C protocol used at the University of Kansas Medical school to treat prostate and other cancers. This program originated with Dr. Hugh D. Riordan, who began treating cancer patients with IV vitamin C 30 years ago. The response of his patients inspired Kansas University Medical school to study it, and they eventually incorporated into their cancer treatment for almost all cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The protocol we follow at The Center for Traditional Medicine is the exact same protocol found by Kansas University researchers to be effective and safe for virtually all cancer patients.
1) American Urological Association 98th Annual Meeting: Abstract 105681. Presented April 27, 2003.
2) Ornish D, Weldner G, Fair WR, et al. Intensive lifestyle changes may effect the progression of prostate cancer. Journal of Urology, September 2005;174(3) 3) News release, University of California, San Francisco. August 2005
2) Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2011;103(11):876-884
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