Dr. Dean Ornish turns from reversing heart disease to trying to reverse prostate cancer.
Does cutting down on saturated fat intake improve cancer-free survival?
Just like with diabetes, the same diet that prevents heart disease, can be used not just to treat it, but to reverse it. Next year is the 20 year anniversary of Dean Ornish’s landmark research showing that—without drugs—a near vegan diet could reverse atherosclerosis, dissolve the plaque, open up the arteries.
Well, if that’s the case, can’t we just eat whatever we want then just go vegan after our first heart attack to dissolve the plaque away? Unfortunately, there’s a little something called sudden cardiac death. Half of those that die of heart disease just drop dead, so our first heart attack may indeed our last, but not in the way we were hoping.
So what’s Ornish up to these days? Well, he’s still reversing heart disease. Nearly three quarters of patients angina-free without drugs or surgery. But now that he’s conquered the number one killer, he’s moved on to trying to reverse killer number 2, ,,, cancer.
PSA levels are typically what’s used to follow the progression of prostate cancer. In the standard diet group they got worse, in the vegan diet group they got better. No surgery, no chemotherapy, no radiation—they just started getting better. Here’s an MR spectrograph showing the drop in cancer activity on the plant-based diet.
To figure out what was going on, they took blood from each group and dripped their blood on prostate cancer cells in a petri dish to see what affect the dietary change had. The blood of the standard diet patients did reduce the cancer cell growth rates by about 10%. Their bodies, their immune systems were doing what they could to beat back the cancer. The blood of people on a vegan diet, though, knocked the cancer growth down 70%. Eating a plant based diet made their bloodstream eight times less hospitable to cancer.
Now this is after a year. Subsequent studies have shown that one can see a significant cancer-fighting effect after just two weeks on a plant-based diet with exercise.
What’s happening, it seems, is that the vegan diet reprogrammed gene expression within the prostate gland itself. Ornish took biopsies before and after the dietary change, and you can see the subtle shift in gene regulation from more red to more green—the green denotes genes that are being downregulated by the lifestyle changes. Before, and after.
Ornish’s two year followup was just published last year. A significant number of the standard diet group were forced to go into surgery for what’s called a radical prostatectomy, which often leads to urinary incontinence and impotence in 60% of men coming out of surgery. , But not a single one of the men on the plant-based diet had to go to surgery.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.
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Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Brown SE, Gould KL, Merritt TA, Sparler S, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, Kirkeeide RL, Hogeboom C, Brand RJ. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. JAMA.16;280(23):2001-7, 1998.
Chugh SS, Reinier K, Teodorescu C, Evanado A, Kehr E, Al Samara M, Mariani R, Gunson K, Jui J. Epidemiology of sudden cardiac death: clinical and research implications. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 51(3):213-28, 2008.
J. Frattaroli, G. Weidner, T. A. Merritt-Worden, S. Frenda, and D. Ornish. Angina pectoris and atherosclerotic risk factors in the multisite cardiac lifestyle intervention program. Am. J. Cardiol., 101(7):911-918, 2008.
Ornish D, Weidner G, Fair WR, Marlin R, Pettengill EB, Raisin CJ, Dunn-Emke S, Crutchfield L, Jacobs FN, Barnard RJ, Aronson WJ, McCormac P, McKnight DJ, Fein JD, Dnistrian AM, Weinstein J, Ngo TH, Mendell NR, Carroll PR. Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. J Urol., 174(3):1065-9; discussion 1069-70, 2005.
Ornish D, Magbanua MJ, Weidner G, Weinberg V, Kemp C, Green C, Mattie MD, Marlin R, Simko J, Shinohara K, Haqq CM, Carroll PR. Changes in prostate gene expression in men undergoing an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 17;105(24):8369-74, 2008.
J. Frattaroli, G. Weidner, A. M. Dnistrian, C. Kemp, J. J. Daubenmier, R. O. Marlin, L. Crutcheld, L. Yglecias, P. R. Carroll, and D. Ornish. Clinical events in prostate cancer lifestyle trial: Results from two years of follow-up. Urology, 72(6):1319-1323, 2008.
For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Preventing and Treating Kidney Failure With Diet, Treating COPD with Diet, Is Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?, Watermelon For Erectile Dysfunction, Vegan Men: More Testosterone But Less Cancer, How Much Soy Is Too Much?, Flaxseeds for Prostate Cancer, and Strawberries Can Reverse Cancer Progression
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