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Changing Prostate Cancer Genes with Lifestyle

If you believe that cancer is genetic and there's nothing you can do to prevent it, take a look at the latest study from Dr. Dean Ornish. He reports that after just three months of a healthful diet and exercise, the genes associated with prostate cancer changed toward normal (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 17, 2008).

The study involved 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer who had chosen not to undergo treatment unless their cancer got worse. The men followed a plant-based diet that avoided meat, saturated fat, and processed or refined foods; walked at least 30 minutes six days a week and at least an hour three days a week; and participated in a weekly support group. Each day they also did an hour of simple yoga-based techniques including stretching, breathing, meditation and imagery.

After just three months on Dr. Ornish's regimen, more than 500 genes associated with prostate cancer reverted toward normal. Cancer genes promote cell growth in a disorderly fashion. The researchers at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) showed that in these men, tumor-suppressing genes became more active and some of the cancer-causing genes switched off.

Many previous studies have shown that most cancers are caused by factors in the environment. Some people are genetically more susceptible to these factors. However, if they avoid the factors, they have an excellent chance of not suffering the cancers. We know that prostate cancer is more common in men who are overweight, diabetic, eat a lot of fat and meat, and/or do not exercise.

A leading theory is that each type of cancer is caused by many factors and the more of these susceptibility factors that involve you, the more likely you are to develop that specific cancer. For example, a woman cannot develop cervical cancer unless she is infected with the HPV virus. But more than 50 percent of American women are infected with this virus and fewer than one in 250 of those develop cervical cancer, so other factors must be involved. A woman with HPV who smokes has almost 20 times the chance of developing cervical cancer as one who has HPV and does not smoke. Other co-factors remain to be found.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How can I help to improve my son's running form?

When children look very awkward when they run, they usually have an imbalance in their muscles, or muscle or nerve damage. Telling an awkward child to change his form won't help and will probably just make him self-conscious. The child should first be evaluated by a physician for conditions that affect nerves and muscles. If none is found, the coach should have the child repeat the running motions over and over until the brain can coordinate the body's motions about his center of gravity. The faster he runs, the more likely he will be to acquire a running form that is efficient and does not waste energy with unnecessary side movements.

Your center of gravity is the spot in your body with equal weight in front and in back. Every motion you make is aimed at keeping your body balanced around your center of gravity. When you move one part of your body forward, you move another backward to keep you from falling. When you move your left leg forward, you automatically move your right arm forward and your left arm backward. People who don't do this look funny when they run. You can't talk a person into efficient running form and you cannot think yourself into good running form. To correct poor running form, go out and run every day and when you are in good shape, start running short interval sprints as fast as you can.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Why don't you recommend alkaline water to help prevent osteoporosis?

Whether the water you drink is acid or alkaline, it becomes acidic as soon as it reaches your stomach. Your body corrects changes in pH with little cost to your calcium metabolism. For example, when your blood becomes slightly alkaline, you breathe slower to retain CO2. When it becomes slightly acidic, you breathe faster to blow off more CO2 (CO2 in water forms carbonic acid). Any pH changes in your body that might be manipulated with diet are minimal compared to other factors that cause osteoporosis: too much thyroid, too much cortisol, any disease that causes malabsorption of nutrients, lack of exercise, an overactive parathyroid, kidney disease, lung disease, malnutrition and so forth.

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Recipe of the Week Summer Barley-Bean Salad

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 25th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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