Rebuilding Genetic Health following Prostate Cancer

In a small but important study researchers in the USA have found measurable improvements in a health related tag on the end of chromosomes in response to lifestyle and nutrition discipline amongst men who have biopsy diagnosed prostate cancer. Here is a summary from Medscape (Sept 20, 2013)

A comprehensive lifestyle intervention might help prostate cancer patients live to be longer in the tooth and in the telomere, suggest results of a very small pilot study reported online in The Lancet Oncology.

Among 35 men with biopsy-proven, low-risk prostate cancer who opted for active surveillance, a comprehensive lifestyle intervention including diet, activity, stress management, and support was associated with lengthening of telomeres over 5 years compared with a loss of telomere length among controls, report Dean Ornish MD, director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, in Sausalito, California, and colleagues.

Telomeres, complexes of DNA and proteins at the end of linear chromosomes, have been shown to be essential for cellular health. Telomere shortening has been associated with increased risk for prostate cancer recurrence in patients who have undergone radical prostatectomy, and it’s theorized that telomere maintenance and lengthening may be associated with better health and longer life.

“This study is the first controlled study to show that any intervention may lengthen telomeres in humans, but it’s not in a vacuum,” Dr. Ornish said in an interview with Medscape Medical News. “There are other, cross-sectional studies showing that people who are under chronic emotional stress tend to have shorter telomeres in direct proportion to the amount of stress they have, or that people who are marathon runners tend to have longer telomeres than those who aren’t.”

The active intervention group included 10 men who were participants in the GEMINAL (Gene Expression Modulation by Intervention with Nutrition and Lifestyle) study. The participants ate a diet low in fat and refined carbohydrates and high in whole fruits and vegetables; exercised aerobically for at least 30 minutes 6 days each week; engaged in stress management programs; and took part in a 1-hour weekly support group. Controls were followed with active surveillance only.

Sure, these guys were supervised and offered support and programs at no charge (I suspect) – but the results show any financial, time or energy sacrifice can help you rebuild genetic integrity which reflects a more robust state of health. This is yet another piece of research evidence demonstrating the value of disciplined indulgence.