Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food, not pills

A study is finally underway that will study a whole diet of just healthy food, with no additional dietary supplements of any kind, on the progression of prostate cancer in those men diagnosed with an early "watchful waiting" stage of prostate cancer.

A new clinical trial at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center will evaluate whether or not a change in diet, reinforced with telephone counseling and exercise, can stop or delay the progression of prostate cancer.

“Ours is the first study to focus on changing the entire lifestyle rather than just giving the participants a supplement pill,” said J. Kellogg Parsons, MD, MHS, urologic oncologist at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.  “We focus on more vegetables, less meat, and comprehensive counseling which encourages a more active lifestyle.”

Participants in the Men’s Eating and Living (MEAL) Study will eat at least seven servings of colorful, strong-flavored produce per day, with an emphasis on cruciferous vegetables and tomato products, as well as whole grains, beans or other legumes, and fruit.  “Evidence in previous studies suggests that a diet high in vegetable intake and low in meat and fat intake may decrease the risk of prostate cancer progressing or even beginning,” said Parsons.

Eligible participants are males up to 80 years old, who have been diagnosed with non-aggressive prostate cancer within the last two years, are in the early stages, and have not yet received treatment of any kind.

For more information on the MEAL study, please call 858-822-2895.

Thankfully, these study participants are not simply being told by their oncologist to "eat right and exercise", whatever that might mean, as I was back in 1995, when there was much less awareness and information, let alone research, about how diet may optimize the odds for long-term cancer survivorship.Thankfully, research dollars are finally being used to do the studies needed to help the 12 million (and growing) cancer survivors in the US alone have helpful information to live longer, healthier, and productive lives after their cancer treatments are completed.

If you are not in the San Diego area and/or (hopefully) aren't even eligible for this study, why wait to "sign up" for a healthy diet that includes more healthy whole foods like kale and the full list of other Brassica vegetables that are delicious and also provide health-promoting compounds?

General good advice is still 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
Serving sizes are the following amounts:
raw = ~1 cup,
cooked = ~1/2 cup,
juice = ~1/2 cup,
dried = ~1/4 cup

In addition, while this blog focuses on and encourages consumption of kale and other Brassica vegetables, variety, variety, variety is important in order to consume as many as possible of the thousands of health-promoting molecules in plant foods on a daily basis. I do not encourage eating a "gigantic bowl" of raw kale every day as a staple of your diet or counting that unusually large amount as 5 servings (or whatever) of your total daily fruit and vegetable intake.

Science understands only the tip of the iceberg in regards to how all of these thousands of plant molecules interact together (i.e. synergistically, meaning 1+1=3) in our body to promote good health. Don't cut yourself short by only focusing on a few of the great ones. In addition, they all add interest and flavor to our diet, which should be the main reason we eat, to enjoy our delicious food, not only to think of our food as "medicine".

Three cheers for kale and all its relatives. I'll bet all the men in this study are going to want a recipe for kale chips, a food that is interesting, flavorful, delicious, and also healthy.  Who could ask for anything more? To be honest, I'll bet all these men are signing up with hopes of full arrest, even reversal, of their early stage prostate cancer, too. I could not agree more and hope for the same right along with them. In the meantime, I hope they enjoy expanding their food boundaries to include more Brassica vegetables on a regular basis. They can rely on this blog for delicious recipes!

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Dr John said...

Good for you, Diane.

Btw, such a study has been done, successfully, in metastatic colon cancer patients, with a focus on diet:

I'm going to discuss it briefly at a Hopkins/Cigna medical conference shortly.
Keep up the good work!

Diana Dyer said...

Hi John,
Thanks for stopping by my kale blog! I believe what was meant is this study is the first one for prostate cancer patients to study diet with without some type of dietary supplement like selenium, fish oil, etc, etc.

In addition, it is an intervention study (in contrast to an observational study like the one you mentioned about colon cancer), so the results should be very helpful in providing both patients and clinicians with evidence-based recommendations.

If results show significant disease-free and/or all-cause survival along with increased quality of life indicators and decreased cost of medical care, hopefully expenses associated with implementation of such a program will be picked up (reimbursed) by medical insurers.

In the meantime, there is no reason to wait for this study to be completed to get started on a very healthy diet, daily exercise, and stress management, along with evaluating what gives you joy, peace, and purpose and get going on getting that into your life, for the rest of your life.

In fact, those are just different words for the shorter sign-off I use on my blog: "Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row". For cancer survivorship, cancer prevention, or for overall good health and wellness, I hope these words give a sense of my belief in the power of "active hope" to everyone reading any of my blogs.

Please stop by again!!