Cancer fighting other than drugs. Better health, Life-style changes, weight loss benefits. Hmmm... all sound right up the "Spark People" alley.
Following, are excerpts from an interview conducted a few years ago with Dr. Dean Ornish, a highly respected Harvard trained Medical Doctor. His well known study of Prostate Cancer patients, published in 2005, pertains to the fact that significant “lifestyle changes” can actually change the expression of one’s genes and engender a major impact on Cancer progression.
Specifically, the study was conducted with men with a Gleason score of under 7. The lifestyle changes included dietary changes (vegan diet), supplementation, relaxation and stress reduction techniques, as well as exercise, 30 minutes per day, 6 days per week.
The following interview provides Dr Dean Ornish's insight, into the connection between lifestyle changes and the major impact of how these changes can inhibit and, in some cases, reverse Cancer and other systemic diseases.
Dr. Dean Ornish (interview) :
My scientific research papers cover a wide range, but my training is very conventional. I trained in internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital.
For the last 30 years or so, I have directed a series of clinical research studies proving that the simple choices that we make in our lives each day can have a powerful impact on our health and our well being, and much more quickly than had once been thought possible, even at a cellular level.
Recently, we conducted the first randomized, controlled clinical trial showing that the progression of early stage prostate cancer may often be stopped or even reversed by making these simple changes in diet and lifestyle. This study was done in collaboration with Dr. Peter Carroll, the chair of urology at UCSF, and Dr. William Fair, who was chair of urologic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at the time (now deceased).
What is true of prostate cancer is likely to be true of breast cancer as well. We also found that the progression of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity could often be prevented, improved, or even reversed in most people.
Our prostate study was a randomized control trial of men who had biopsy proven prostate cancer and who have elected not to be treated conventionally for reasons unrelated to our study. What made this interesting from a scientific standpoint is that we could take men who knew they had cancer from biopsies, randomly divide them into two groups, and have a true non-intervention control group so we could determine the effects of comprehensive lifestyle changes alone without being confounded by other treatments. You can't do that with breast cancer because almost everybody gets treated right away, so you don't know if any improvements were due to the lifestyle changes or the chemo or the radiation or the surgery.
After a year we found that PSA levels, a marker for prostate cancer, went up (worsened) in the comparison or control group, but went down significantly (improved) in the experimental group that made the lifestyle changes we recommended. The degree of change in lifestyle was directly correlated with the degree of change in their PSA levels.
We also found that the prostate tumor growth in vitro was inhibited 70 percent in the group that made these changes compared to only nine percent in the group that didn't. The inhibition of the tumor growth was itself a direct function of the degree of change in lifestyle. In other words, the more people changed, the more it directly inhibited the growth of their prostate tumors.
J. Craig Venter has shown that one way you can change your genes is by making new ones. We are finding that another way you can change your gene expression is simply by changing your lifestyle.
In May of this year, we published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Craig was the communicating editor). We found that changing lifestyle actually changes gene expression. In only three months, we found that over 500 genes were either up-regulated or down-regulated—in simple terms, turning on genes that prevent many chronic diseases, and turning off genes that cause coronary heart disease, oncogenes that are linked to breast and prostate cancer, genes that promote inflammation and oxidative stress and so on.
These findings may capture people's imagination—so often, people think there is not much they can do, what I call genetic nihilism: "Oh, it's all in my genes, what can I do?" Well, it turns out you can do a lot, more quickly than we had once realized and to a much greater degree than had been thought possible.
I'm not against the use of drugs or surgery—sometimes, they can be lifesaving—but they don't usually have to be the first choice in treating or preventing chronic diseases. One of the overriding themes of my work is finding that lifestyle changes not only work as well as drugs and surgery, but oftentimes even better. End of Interview.
There has been much discussion, over the years, about the impact of "lifestyle changes" from a preventative perspective and a treatment perspective. This study offers concrete evidence supporting the conclusion that "lifestyle" does in fact have a major effect on early stage Prostate Cancer and most probably Breast Cancer and, very possibly, other Cancers as well.