Over the past 10 years of clinical practice, I have worked with hundreds of men with prostate cancer. I offer them holistic, lifestyle recommendations. In the process, I have learned that adherence is key: the more you stick with the program, the better you will do.
Why am I making this point?
Last week, I saw a patient with a history of prostate cancer in a return office visit. And he admittedly has “fallen off of the horse” for the last 12 months. I first saw this gentleman three years ago where his PSA was slowly creeping up after his prostate removal a year prior (four years ago). Initially after he adopted the personalized lifestyle plan I prescribed for him his PSA stabilized nicely. In fact, his PSA value went down for the first time in over a year. His lifestyle plan consisted of a specialized dietary regimen (not just a low-fat or low calorie diet), targeted exercise and focused group of dietary supplements. But then, life took over, old-habits returned, and his PSA rose again. We are working to get him back on track.
I am always interested in the level of adherence required to live well, so I went to the medical research database, PubMed, to see if lifestyle compliance equals efficacy. Here is what I found.
In 2005 a landmark paper was published by Dean Ornish, MD and his research team studied the effects of lifestyle medicine in a randomized design compared to a group with no lifestyle change, known as the control group. The results, after one year was impressive:
- Disease in 6 men in the control group progressed and those men underwent conventional treatment for prostate cancer. None of the men in the lifestyle group needed treatment after one year do to cancer progression.
- PSA marginally decreased in the lifestyle group while the control group experienced a moderate increase in PSA after one year.
- Blood was drawn by all studied subjects and poured over prostate cancer cells (known as LNCaP cells) in a lab. There was a 70% reduction in prostate cancer cells progression from blood of subjects in the lifestyle group compared to only 9% in the control group.
Now here is what’s interesting with regards to compliance: the degree to which the lifestyle group adhered to the program impacted prostate cancer cells growth;
Low adherence - <48% reduction of prostate cancer growth
Moderate adherence – 48% to 89% of prostate cancer growth
High adherence - >89% of prostate cancer growth
The lifestyle program in this study included a plant-based diet, exercise for 30 minutes a day, certain supplements that included fish oil and vitamin C, and daily meditation. This is just one study, but it is an interesting one.
If you find you have fallen off, get back up on that horse of yours. I am not suggesting that 100% compliance to your program is required, as the Ornish study demonstrated that it is not. Nonetheless, adopting a healthy lifestyle routine and set of habits can make all the difference. It will also help you to stay engaged in life and to feel fantastic despite your diagnosis. You and your family deserve it.
All the Best,