Transcript: Cancer Reversal through Diet?
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 will be the 20th 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, and then just start eating vegan after our first heart attack to dissolve the plaque away? Unfortunately, there’s a little something called sudden cardiac death. Half of those who die of heart disease just drop dead; so our first heart attack may indeed be 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 #1 killer, he’s moved on to trying to reverse killer #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 effect the dietary change had. The blood of the standard diet patients did reduce the cancer cell growth rates by about 10%. Their bodies and their immune systems were doing the best that 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 under the lifestyle changes. Before, and after.
Ornish’s two-year follow-up 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.
Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.