What if You Could Prevent Prostate Cancer with Diet and Exercise?

by Paul Rogers on July 10, 2008

Preventing prostate cancer with lifestyle behaviours may not be that extreme a proposition considering the latest research from a group studying gene and prostate cancer interactions.

The Prostate

I should make it perfectly clear that this research is promising and profoundly interesting, but it is NOT a sure-fire cure for prostate cancer and you should not disregard advice from your treatment specialist if you have existing prostate cancer.

The prostate is a gland that sits at the neck of the urethra and bladder in men and the cancer usually occurs in men older than 40 and with increasing incidence as men age.

The study emphasized a diet high in plant foods and exercise

The pilot study, which involved well-known lifestyle researcher and nutritionist, Dr Dean Ornish, evaluated changes in prostate gene expression in men with low-risk prostate cancer who declined conventional treatments like surgery, hormone therapy or radiation and who trialled an intensive nutrition and exercise lifestyle program while undergoing evaluation for tumor progression.

The patients at a diet high in plant foods including soy, fish oil, the mineral selenium and vitamins C and E and very little of red meat and fats. They walked or did gym for at least 30 minutes, 6 days a week; did an hour of daily yoga and meditation type relaxation; and attended 1-hour weekly support sessions.

The authors emphasize that it is too early to know if this kept the cancer in check. Yet, to the surprise of the researchers, what they found was that at the gene level, genes that protect against cancer seemed to be turned on (tumor-suppressor genes) and genes that promote cancer (oncogenes) were turned off in substantial quantities.

University of California, San Francisco geneticist Christopher Haqq said”

“It is absolutely intriguing this lifestyle change can have as much effect as the most powerful drugs available to us now. We medical oncologists are always looking for drugs that can do this. It is delightful to find that diet and lifestyle can have profound effects and be complementary to drug therapies—with fewer side effects.”

What you need to know

While this looks like a valuable line of research, don’t get too carried away and reject all standard treatments if your doc advises it is too dangerous to do so. Remember that the experimental group had “low-risk” prostate cancer to start with.

Second, what this research does suggest is that this sort of lifestyle approach could be a really useful preventive approach to prostate cancer. You need to get that exercise and eat lots of nuts, beans, seeds like sunflower and pumpkin green vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Avoid the red meat and saturated fat as much as possible; chicken and fish is better. A few Brazil nuts each day will give you a good dose of natural selenium — about 100 micrograms or thereabout.

Read the complete study at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 2008.

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