Up to 73% of men with prostate cancer take nonprescription supplements, and smaller numbers use diet, exercise, or both in the hope of improving their outcome.
Most of these men also receive conventional therapy, but a few depend on lifestyle alone. The appeal of lifestyle therapy is obvious—but does it work. Experts don't know, though research raises hope that it may have a beneficial impact, reports the July 2007 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch .
All of the 93 men who signed up for the trial had newly diagnosed low- to moderate-grade cancers that were localized to the prostate gland. Half were randomly assigned to a lifestyle program, and half got no advice on lifestyle changes. The program that researchers created included four elements: An ultra-low-fat vegan diet; supplements, including soy, fish oil, vitamins E and C, and selenium; an exercise program of walking 30 minutes six days a week; and stress reduction that included yoga-based stretching, breathing, and meditation for an hour a day.
At the end of a year, a small but significant difference was evident. The average PSA in the intensive lifestyle group fell, whereas the average PSA in the untreated men rose. The participants in the lifestyle group also showed favorable cancer-fighting changes in their blood.
Much more research is needed before lifestyle therapy can be recommended clinically. But, the Harvard Men's Health Watch notes, men with prostate cancer may choose not to wait until science catches up with their disease. And since the lifestyle program studied is good for general health, its elements will make a reasonable addition to any prostate cancer program