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A Diet for Cancer?

The Dean Ornish solution.

Too Drastic? continued...

That was the case for Dennis Simkin, a San Francisco Bay area resident who learned three years ago, at 51, that his PSA measurement of 6.8 was in the borderline danger range. A biopsy ordered by his doctor, Carroll, confirmed that he had early-stage prostate cancer. Simkin opted to try the Ornish program in hopes of avoiding the need for treatment that might make him impotent, incontinent, or both.

"We had always eaten fairly healthy," Simkin says, "But this was drastic. It did take time to adjust. Eliminating all added oil from our diet, for instance, was hard."

Still, soon after making the changes, Simkin noticed that he felt better. "That made the transition much easier," he says. What's more, his PSA quickly dropped below 4.

But Catalona is not convinced that Simkin's results will be that meaningful when the final data are tallied at study's end. "As far as diet and lifestyle changes go, I think that there's a good chance they will slow the progression of the disease and patients will see a drop in PSA, but that benefit will only be temporary," he says. The dietary changes might deprive the tumors of some nutrients they need to grow, he says. But tumors are adaptable, and it's his hunch that the cancer cells will find another way to get the nourishment they require.

That may be what is happening to Simkin. His PSA level has slowly risen back over 6. "We're watching it very closely now," he said, "and it may end up that I have to have surgery or radiation after all."

Joe Alper is managing editor of's online magazine about biotechnology and cutting edge biomedical science.


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