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PSA Levels Reduced With Intensive Lifestyle Changes - Ornish Study

Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2016

I was poking through the forums and noticed that Dean Ornish's studies on prostate cancer were not mentioned on these boards, which seems remarkable to me given that he reversed or halted prostate cancer in a group of 44 men.  The study was published in the Journal of Urology, Vol. 174, 1065–1070, September 2005.  You can find a free copy of the study online by searching for "INTENSIVE LIFESTYLE CHANGES MAY AFFECT THE PROGRESSION OF PROSTATE CANCER."

Basically Ornish put a group of men on a whole food vegan diet, which eliminated as much saturated fat and cholesterol as possible from the diet.  He also put them on an exercise regimen of 30 minutes of vigorous walking six days a week an hour of mediation a day.  He also had a control group that were ordered to follow their doctor's advice.  

At the end of the trial, none of the 44 men in the experimental group had undergone treatment for the advancement of their disease and their average PSA score dropped from 6.23 to 5.98, which indicates a regression of the disease.  In the control group of 49 men, 6 ended up undergoing treatment for advancement of their disease and their average PSA score increased from 6.36 to 6.74 (and the people who underwent treatment were not included in that average, otherwise it would have been much higher).  

Another interesting side note, Ornish took blood from the participants and dripped it over a culture of prostate cancer cells. The growth of prostate cancer cells was inhibited almost 8 times more by serum from the experimental than from the control group.  That's 800% more cancer fighting power on the vegan diet.  I've looked at other studies that suggest the diet+exercise combo is critical, because the exercise helps work the blood into the tumor structure where it can destroy the cancer cells.  Ornish also found a relationship existed between compliance and results, so the people who better stuck to the diet and exercise plan had greater reductions in their PSA levels.

It is important to do your research on your own FIRST before radically changing your diet!  Vegan diets require B12 supplementation and can produce massive changes in blood chemistry.  People who are on insulin or taking blood pressure medications may hurt themselves because the diet can lower insulin resistance and blood pressure so much that medications may need to be lowered to compensate.

For people who are interested in learning more about treating their prostate cancer with a vegan diet, I highly recommend looking up the work done by Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. T. Collin Campbell,  Dr. Michael Klaper and Dr. Neal Barnard.  All of them have numerous lectures on YouTube, most of them also have books published and have been featured in documentaries like "Forks Over Knives".

A great resource for nutrition information is the website nutritionfacts.org.  Several videos and articles cover all sorts of research linking prostate cancer to lifestyle, and the changes that can be made to prevent and reverse the disease.  

Finally, here's an awesome brochure on nutrition put out by the UCSF Medical Center.  The only thing it gets wrong is recommending ocassional fish for omega 3 fatty acids.  A study done in Japan showed a high correlation between fish consumption and prostate cancer risk, in contradiction to the study cited in the brochure.  Stick with walnuts or a few tablespoons of ground flax seed daily for your omega 3s.

It's worth noting that American men face 1 in 7 odds of developing prostate cancer, and a 1 in 38 chance of dying from it.  It's the second leading cause of cancer death among men behind lung cancer.  In countries where meat and dairy consumption is low, prostate cancer a rare disease.  


(The experimental method used by Ornish in his trial:

"Experimental group patients were prescribed an intensive lifestyle program that included a vegan diet supplemented with soy (1 daily serving of tofu plus 58 gm of a fortified soy protein powdered beverage), fish oil (3 gm daily), vitamin E (400 IU daily), selenium (200 mcg daily) and vitamin C (2 gm daily), moderate aerobic exercise (walking 30 minutes 6 days weekly), stress management techniques (gentle yoga based stretching, breathing, meditation, imagery and progressive relaxation for a total of 60 minutes daily) and participation in a 1-hour support group once weekly to enhance adherence to the intervention. The diet was predominantly fruits, vegetables, whole grains (complex carbohydrates), legumes and soy products, low in simple carbohydrates and with approximately 10% of calories from fat. The diet is intensive but palatable and practical. In earlier studies most patients were able to adhere to this diet for at least 5 years.")

hopeful and opt...
Posts: 2336
Joined: Apr 2009

Excellent post. Welcome to the Prostate discussion site.

Most of us at this forum have made changes to our life style and diets. I for one eat a veggie based diet ( and now taking B12) with fish on occassion. Takes for posting the study about Japanese men who eat fish. Others here follow mediterranean and dash diets.

I mentioned my veggie based diet to my oncologist where I am being treated in an active surveillance program. He told me that I should have been doing this all my life.

It seems to me that there is only a tendency for a veggie based diet to abate or even reverse prostate cancer, but, "Heart healthy is prostate healthy" so even if the diet does not have a significant effect on prostate cancer, the diet will help in the fight against heart disease which is epidemic, and we , even thoes of us with prostate cancer are more likely to die from heart disease than prostate cancer, so it is a great to eat heart healthy.

Michael , welcome to the board.


VascodaGama's picture
Posts: 3407
Joined: Nov 2010


Thanks for posting the info about the study regarding vegans’ diet. However, some aspects of your discussion may be misleading or trying to ignore the importance of nutrients vital in the war against cancer. In fact, veganism practices may be the reason for not being discussed by these kinds of forums.
Please do not think that I am against vegans, but to substantiate it’s highly benefits in prostate cancer control may be a concept going too far.

In your assertions you say it all. Vitamin B12 is very important and that is deficient in vegan diets. It is not via a supplement that people should try getting what is rejected by eating naturally. Another missing ingredient is the Arginine in sufficient quantities, an important amino acid that leads to produce Creatine (the muscle’s Viagra). Deficiency in such nitrogenous organic acid leads to weak heart beat and heart failures. Arginine is a product found in protein rich foods such as meats and fish.

The Japanese study of your post found a correlation between fish consumption and prostate cancer risk, but it does not attribute the cause to the consumption of the fish’s oils; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), used to produce the omega 3 fatty acids in the body. Surely vegans may prefer to get these important components from supplements (instead of eating naturally) to complement the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from plants and nuts (in their diets) to assure proper amounts of the fatty acids in the body.

Vegan and vegetarian diets are good in cholesterol control, which product is found in most organs’ tissues. It also produces the Testosterone vital for the activity and progression of prostate cancer. People in vegan and vegetarian diets show having much lower testosterone in circulation than meat and fish heaters. This lower level of T may be behind the Ornish's findings of lower PSA values. However, the cholesterol may be controlled with a simple balanced diet of lesser meat and more vegetables. Lower PSA values also don’t lead to cure where a vegan diet may lead to other health hazards not presented in your discussions.

I am still advocate of a balanced life style with a balanced diet (not to the extremes) and moderate physical fitness programs. For some reason the Mediterranean type of diet is acclaimed to be one that have assured long living populations in the world, and for that got a permanent seat in the UNESCO's Intangible Heritage List.

We do not know who sponsored Ornish's study, but we know that supplements have become a multibillion-dollar business in the world, with Americans spending close to 3 billion dollars a year on nutritional supplements.



Rakendra's picture
Posts: 198
Joined: Apr 2013

This is the program I have been advocating for three years.  I also have stressed the spiritual side of not eating your fellow animals.  I have stressed meditation and energetic exercise programs.  BUT WHAT IS NOT MENTIONED, BUT TOTALLY IMPORTANT is your mental atitude.  I have stressed the importance of being in the moment, being grateful for all you have been given (including cancer) and staying continully in a positve love space, and making the time you have left the most  valuable time of your life.

    Guys, the ONLY reason you are here is for spiritual growth.  Resist and surely you will suffer.  Grow in consciouness and you will enter the Garden of Eden, the world that Love created.  That is why you are here.  The problem is that this is not taught by so called "Religions" so most people are blocked from spiritual growth.  I love the above post.

Love, Swami Rakendra












Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2016

VascodaGama, If you want to downplay the results of Ornish's study, I suppose that's your perogative.  

You should be aware though that the only reason meat eaters get adequate B12 is because the cattle industry injects cattle with high doses of B12, which meat eaters then get by proxy.  B12 is created by bacteria, not animals.  Prior to modern times, people got all the B12 they needed by drinking from unfiltered streams and lakes.

As for DHA, EPA, Arginine and Creatine, it has been found that a properly balanced vegan diet (one that isn't based on potato chips and oreos) can provide all the essential amino and fatty acids required.  Flax seeds and walnuts in particular provide a balanced omega 6 to 3 ratio, and they come packed with potent cancer fighting phytonutrients.  There are also vegan supplments that can provide those with out the PCBs, mercury, dioxins, endotoxins, saturated fat and cholesterol that comes with eating meat or egg products.

This is why I recommend people actually do their homework when it comes to diet before jumping in.  Here's a great lecture that covers a lot of nutritional information.

VascodaGama's picture
Posts: 3407
Joined: Nov 2010

I am not exactly downplaying the results of Ornish's study but the assertion given by you in regards to the vegan’s diet as means of controlling prostate cancer. I strongly believe that such is not healthy and that may be the reason why you do not see discussions in similar cancer forums.

Please remember that we are survivors or people looking for opinions to deal with a positive diagnosis of cancer. We are not those looking for means to avoid having the cancer, as expressed in those lectures given by you. In fact we dislike those that try using these forums for selling their products.

Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2016

I'm not sure what you think I'm trying to sell here.  I'm a software developer, not a broccoli salesman. I'm showing you a study where an entire group of men reversed their prostate cancer by eating a whole food low fat vegan diet, wich you seem to think is more dangerous than the prostate cancer itself.  

The Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association both openly state that vegan diets are perfectly healthy for people of all ages, as long as they are appropriately constructed to provide a balanced source of nutrients, which is something I've stressed repeatedly.  A diet of oreos and potato chips is vegan, but it will kill you just as fast as fried chicken and hamburgers.    

Posts: 11
Joined: Oct 2015

Great find. Will read the study word for word. I can already see that positive results were noticed but a definitive concusion could not be made because of the prostate was low grade to begin with and the study didnt follow them long enough. 

Posts: 31
Joined: Oct 2013

Wow,  not even close to an appropriate conclusion from the study you presented! There was NO data in the Ornish study that reflected a reversal of prostate cancer.  This was a tiny study that was interesting but not conclusive of anything


Old Salt
Posts: 822
Joined: Aug 2014

The Ornish study was evaluated by a (US Gov't) Technology Assessment Group


Their conclusion was:

The trial by Ornish et al. was the only study that addressed our primary outcome—recurrence or progression of cancer. The trial reports a modest statistically significant decrease in PSA in the lifestyle intervention group; however, this result should be interpreted with caution as there were methodological limitations and the trial was assessed at high risk of bias. Furthermore, the clinical significance of this outcome is unclear. The natural variability of PSA assays has been previously recognized, with a coefficient of variation (CV) between 10 and 15 percent as reported in prospective studies.203,204 A recent systematic review of 12 studies reported a mean CV of 20 percent.205 There is evidence that PSA increases at a faster rate in men with prostate cancer and that PSA kinetics may enable better selection of men for further investigation.206 In addition, PSA is currently used to measure treatment effect for most cancer treatments. However, there is currently no evidence that directly correlates increased PSA with progression of, or survival following prostate cancer. Indeed PSA can actually decrease and normalize in men with clinically significant prostate cancer.207,208 Ultimately, progression of cancer and survival are the patient-oriented outcomes that we are seeking to improve. The strength of evidence is insufficient.

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