August 16, 2005
A radically changed lifestyle together with antioxidant supplementation seems to stop the growth of early prostate cancer, while the blood becomes eight times more capable of fighting cancer cells.
Some studies with humans and numerous animal trials and population surveys have indicated that antioxidants counteract cancer. Nevertheless, only a few researchers have examined whether they help against cancer in humans when the disease is a reality. An American trial now shows that this may be the case, at least by cancer in the prostate.
The trial, which has just been published, included 93 men with early-stage prostate cancer. They were selected because they had refused to accept usual cancer treatment.
44 of them were instructed to follow a fairly strict diet where only 10% of calories were allowed to come from fat. They had to have a pure plant diet and avoid dairy products, but in return received a protein supplement in the form of a soy drink. In addition, they had to exercise equivalent to half an hour of brisk walking a day and had to perform various yoga exercises and meditate for another hour. Of course they weren’t allowed to smoke!
You’d think most people would quickly give up such a strict lifestyle. But the vast majority persist, perhaps because they are doing well. The leader of the trial, Dean Ornish, has described that when he let a group of men with bad hearts follow this recipe, their atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries of the heart decreased – mind you, not just in the first year, but quietly in a continuing process that all in all lasted at least five years.
In the current trial, however, Ornish supplemented with nutritional supplements:
- Vitamin E 400 units/day.
- Vitamin C: 2 grams/day.
- Selenium: 200 micrograms/day.
- Fish oil: 3 grams/day.
Better after a year
All had the so-called PSA value measured, first at the start of the experiment, and again after one year. PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) is an approximate expression of the spread of the cancer. That was the main purpose of the trial to measure what happened to PSA.
What happened was that when a year had passed, the PSA value had fallen by an average of 4% in the 44 in active treatment, while that in the control group – which was closely followed by their own doctor – had increased by 6%.
That in itself was an exciting result. But in addition, six men from the placebo group became so ill that they had to withdraw from the trial and undergo traditional treatment. If the six men from the control group had not dropped out – because they became very ill – the difference would have been even greater.
No actively treated patients left the trial
As a supplement to the PSA measurements, one more experiment was performed. They took serum from all participants and examined how it affected the growth of prostate cancer cells in laboratory experiments. After a year, a huge difference had emerged: the treated men’s serum inhibited the growth of cancer cells eight times as much as the control group’s!
These results are statistically very confident. One must therefore expect that there is an effect, but what causes it? Was it the predominantly green diet, soy, exercise – or perhaps yoga and meditation? Or was it the antioxidants?
One can only guess. Dean Ornish believes that overall lifestyle changes made the difference. But the assumption that antioxidants help against cancer is of course supported. In any case, the experiment is highly thought-provoking.
By: Vitality Council
Ornish D et al. Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. The Journal of Urology 2005;174:1065-70.
Ornish D et al. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. JAMA 1998;280:2001-7.