A carefully limited pilot study of 30 prostate cancer patients by scientists and doctors at UCSF and a Sausalito research institute indicates for the first time that major lifestyle changes may prevent early cell death and lengthen human life.
The study was led by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, the UCSF biochemist famed for discovering the mysterious proteins called telomeres that cap the ends of chromosomes and control the longevity of dividing cells.
Her principal colleague is Dr. Dean Ornish, the San Francisco cardiologist and widely publicized advocate of diet control, exercise and stress reduction to prevent heart disease deaths - a doctrine that was controversial many years ago when Ornish first proposed it but is now widely accepted.
In their report, published today in the British journal Lancet Oncology, the researchers caution that with such a limited number of patients their study is only preliminary, and they call for a much larger and strictly controlled research project.
But if these early findings are confirmed, they say, "this might be a powerful motivator for many people to beneficially change their diet and lifestyle."