Diet and Lifestyle Changes Improve Prostate Cancer Prognosis
By Maureen Williams, ND
Healthnotes Newswire (October 27, 2005)—Men with prostate cancer can improve their prognosis by combining dietary changes, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques, according to the Journal of Urology (2005;174:1065–70).
Prostate cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men worldwide and the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. There is increasing evidence that lifestyle factors, including diet, physical activity, and stress, contribute to the development and progression of prostate cancer. High intake of soy foods, tomatoes, and vegetables has been shown in previous studies to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Diets rich in foods containing high levels of selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E have also been found to be protective. Unfortunately, many men don’t decide to make healthy changes until after they have a diagnosis such as prostate cancer. The effect of making drastic lifestyle changes including dietary changes, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques on the future health of men who already have prostate cancer is not known.
In the current study, 98 men with early stage prostate cancer and had made the decision, with the advice of their physician, not to pursue medical interventions such as surgery, radiation, or drug therapy, but rather to employ an approach known as “watchful waiting.” They were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group received instruction and support to help them make dramatic lifestyle changes for one year and the other group did not. The men who made changes followed a vegan diet (no animal products) rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, with few sugars and about 10% of calories from fat. One serving of tofu and one soy protein drink were included in the diet each day. They also supplemented with 400 IU of vitamin E, 200 mcg of selenium, and 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day, walked for 30 minutes six days per week, practiced yoga and various relaxation methods for one hour per day, and participated in a support group once per week to help them to adhere to the program. Questionnaires were used to assess how well they stuck to the program, and blood tests, including prostate specific antigen (PSA, a blood marker used to monitor the progress of prostate cancer), were done at the beginning of the study and after one year.
At the end of the study, the average PSA level had decreased by about 4% in the group following the lifestyle change program, but had increased by about 6% in the group that did not make changes. Moreover, in men who made lifestyle changes, the degree of adherence to the program was linked to the degree of drop in their PSA levels.
The results of this study show for the first time that undertaking major lifestyle changes can effectively improve the prognosis in men with early stage prostate cancer. They further suggest that how well a man adheres to diet changes, exercise, and stress reduction predicts how much protection against cancer progression he will experience. In light of these findings, men with early stage prostate cancer should be encouraged to follow a comprehensive lifestyle change program rather than simply employ “watchful waiting.”
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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