The co-authors of Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, blog alternate posts weekly. We invite you to post your comments.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In Praise of Olive Oil & Avocados


Nearly 2.5 million men in the United States currently live with prostate cancer, and a recent study led by UC San Francisco has found that these men may significantly improve their survival potential with a simple change in their diet.

The study, involving some 4,600 men who had been diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer, found that by substituting healthy vegetable fats—olive and canola oils, nuts, seeds and avocados—for animal fats and carbohydrates, the majority of the men in the study lowered their risk of disease progression.

In the June 10, 2013 online issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, lead author Erin L. Richman, ScD, a post-doctoral scholar in the UCSF Department of Epidemiology  and Biostatistics wrote, “Consumption of healthy oils and nuts increases plasma antioxidants and reduces insulin and inflammation which may deter prostate cancer progression.”

In our book, Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, Mark put the spotlight on insulin in a chapter entitled, The Insulin Connection. In it he explains that insulin deficiency inhibits the development and progression of cancer. However, even more significant, Mark pointed out that excess insulin in the blood acts as high-octane fuel for cancer growth, and is associated with the development of more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

Dean Ornish, MD, of cardiac management fame, studied 93 men with prostate cancer.  Half of these men were randomly allocated to the Ornish diet program, while the remainder served as a non-treated comparison group. After twelve months, the men on the program had a statistically significant reduction in their PSA levels. Furthermore, extracting serum from the blood of men in both groups, Ornish fed it to prostate cancer cells kept alive in Petri dishes.  The cancer cells that were fed serum from the men not on his program grew eight times faster than those cells receiving serum from men who were on the program.
Returning to the “fat intake” study, the authors also uncovered a striking benefit: Men who replaced only 10 percent of their total daily calories from carbohydrates with healthy vegetable fats, had a 29 percent lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer. Ornish’s dietary recommendations were simple enough: a diet that was vegan or vegetarian, non-diary, supplemented with anti-oxydents such as lycopene, selenium and vitamin E, supported by  moderate aerobic or other exercise.

Clearly further research is needed. There is rather too much “may improve,” and “may lower the risk in many of the existing studies on the role of diet in the treatment of prostate cancer for my taste. However for now, guys, following a heart-healthy diet seems to be the safest way to go if you want to keep your cancer in check.

 So I say bring on the olive oil and avocados!

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