25 June 2012

Ian Gawler Blog: Let your food be your medicine – part 2

Nutrition can reduce the risk of developing cancer, along with the rate of its progression and recurrence for those who already have it.

Thought for the Day

Money can't buy you happiness .... 
But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery
                                                                                                    - Spike Milligan

This week, the second half of the top 10 recent research articles on nutrition.

Last week, I began a report based on two major international nutrition conferences. The first was a combined effort from the CSIRO, the Australian Dieticians and ACNEM, a peak body for doctors interested in nutritional and environmental medicine. The second was convened by Metagenics and focused on the therapeutic application of nutrition in cancer medicine.
This week, let’s share the second half of the nutritional research that impressed.

6. Pomegranate juice – good for you, bad for prostate cancer 
The robust, open label study reported on here, was the first clinical trial of pomegranate polyphenol antioxidants in patients with prostate cancer. Patients were treated with eight ounces per day of pomegranate juice. Mean PSA doubling time significantly increased with treatment from a mean of 15 months at baseline to 54 months post-treatment.

The statistically significant prolongation of PSA doubling time, coupled with corresponding laboratory effects on prostate cancer in vitro cell proliferation and apoptosis as well as oxidative stress provide a good indication of a relationship between pomegranate polyphenol antioxidants and prostate health.

Although the science has not yet reached the point of identifying pomegranate polyphenols as a treatment for prostate cancer, these studies and other evidence demonstrate the protective effects of these polyphenols in promoting prostate health.

As the study was so successful, it was amended and extended. The researchers concluded:

 “Long-term follow-up of pomegranate juice consumption in men with prostate cancer and a rising PSA demonstrates a durable increase in PSA doubling time.” The data suggest that a sub-set of patients may be more sensitive to the effects of pomegranate juice. Overall, this research reaffirms the value of the earlier Pantuck research by showing that the effects can be long-term. The findings of this promising human clinical study are consistent with an underlying body of scientific evidence and have encouraged further study of pomegranate products and prostate health.

    Pantuck AJ, et al. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2006; 12:4018–4026.

    Pantuck AJ, et al., Abstract presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2008 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium (Abstract 40): Long Term Follow Up Of Pomegranate Juice For Men With Prostate Cancer And Rising PSA Shows Durable Improvement in PSA Doubling Time.

7. Curcumin – good for you, enhances radiotherapy
Curcumin, one of the active ingredients in turmeric, has been shown to provide protection from radiotherapy and to enhance its action. Now that is a helpful spice! While 4 studies were quoted explaining the clinical benefits and biochemical interactions, another study essentialised:

The radioprotective effects are due to the ability to reduce oxidative and inflammatory stress, as well as inhibiting transcription of genes related to oxidative stress and inflammatory processes.

The radiosensitivity effect may be due to the up-regulation of genes responsible for cell death (apoptosis).

   Jagetia, GC, Radioprotection and radiosensitization by curcumin, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:301-20.

8. Zinc – good for you, bad for cancer
Many studies report on the fact that zinc is a common deficiency amongst people with cancer. We know that on the diet I recommend, zinc is one of the minerals that may need supplementing.

Many studies report on zinc’s relevance to long term survival, and while there was no review article as such, here are some of the findings.

Zinc deficiency results in immune disfunction and is associated with increased tumour size, more rapid cancer progression, and increased hospitalisations.

Zinc is an antioxidant, helps speed up the healing process after an injury, is generally beneficial to the body's immune system and helps to stimulate the action of more than 100 enzymes.

Zinc has been shown to protect against radiation-induced oropharyngeal mucositis.

The take home message? Testing zinc levels and modest supplementation makes good sense.

9. Lifestyle lengthens telomeres, may relate to increased survival

Telomeres are protective DNA—protein complexes at the end of chromosomes.

Telomere shortness is emerging as a prognostic marker of disease risk, progression, and premature mortality in many types of cancer.

Telomere shortening is counteracted by the cellular enzyme telomerase.

A three month program teaching intensive lifestyle changes very similar to those set out in You Can Conquer Cancer and taught at the Gawler Foundation, increased telomerase activity and was associated with lengthening of telomeres.

      Ornish, D et al, 2008, The Lancet Oncology, Vol 9, 11, 1048 -1057

10. Food and exercise saves lives

A recent, major review of the literature for breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer concluded:

1. Observational studies suggest a low-fat, high-fibre diet might be protective against cancer recurrence and progression.

2. There is more support for physical activity, with a dose response for better outcomes.

    Davies, N J, 2011, Br J Cancer, Nov 8; 105(S1): S52–S73.


1. Peace of Mind goes Italian

My first book on meditation, Peace of Mind, has just been released in an Italian translation. Called Meditare – Fa bene alla salute, it has been published by Gruppo Editoriale Armenia S.p.A from Milan. Their website is www.armenia.it. If you have any Italian speaking friends interested in meditation, please let them know.

2. Compassion and Presence - important seminar for social and healthcare professionals

Highly recommended program. 14 -15 July. Treacy Centre, Parkville, Vic


Responding effectively to the needs of patients remains an on-going professional and deeply personal challenge. Compassion and Presence offers the opportunity to learn contemplative resources that support you in your life and work, and enhance the way you offer care - with a renewed sense of joy, confidence, and fulfillment. 
The training introduces insights and contemplations from Sogyal Rinpoche's groundbreaking book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and demonstrates in practical ways how to appropriately integrate these practices of meditation, contemplative listening, and compassion in any medical setting.  The focus is on cultivating presence and mindfulness, and deepening the capacity for compassion, so that you can remain present, spacious and loving in the face of suffering.
Compassion and Presence is for anyone who cares for others in hospice, palliative care, critical care, gerontology, oncology, general medicine, nursing, emergency medicine, pastoral care, psychology, social work, health care education, and other allied health professions. It will resonate with professionals and volunteers from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.

3 Preventive health an imperative for GPs
Preventive health must become the “core business” of Medicare Locals, and GPs need to be actively involved in promoting and delivering preventive health activities, according to a new government blueprint.

The call to action is made in a Joint Statement on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Medicare Locals issued this month by the newly created Australian National Preventive Health Agency and the Australian Medicare Local Alliance.

However, they recognise that there are barriers to GPs offering preventive health interventions.

“The degree to which GPs practice preventive health during appointments is influenced by a range of factors, including their own personal beliefs, their perception of patient willingness to change, their sense of personal efficacy, their own levels of skill and knowledge about the particular health issue and the time perceived to be available to them,” an accompanying monograph notes.

The blueprint suggests that GPs and Medicare Locals not only deliver preventive interventions but become advocates for identifying and addressing health inequities in their locality and improving access for the most disadvantaged people.

COMMENT: For cost effectiveness and lifestyle change, we need to be creative. Groups such as the Gawler Foundation has been offering for 30 years provide the forum for change in a way that works, while on-line programs like Mindbody Mastery are a  way to reach a wider audience and to positively support regular meditation practice.

The best way to treat illness, is not to get it!

Let food be your medicine - 1

Eating for recovery

Big Mac or a salad?


Eating well, being well

Eating for recovery


  1. Fabulous summary Ian of the evidence. I've shared on twitter and Facebook.
    Thanks so much for bringing it to us via this blog

  2. Food and lifestyle is the main cause of human illness, considering how food may help you have a healthier lifestyle is not easy, just like what you said that there are several minerals and vitamins that our body needs and how cancer hates zinc within our body. Even though cancer still doesn't have a medicine for it, having a good zinc supplement is how it might help a person with cancer.

  3. Recently I share this in my facebook and than a lot of comments come on that. But there are nothing to do with it. But the cancer it the enemy for every person.

    View news

  4. The best way to improve your health is eating more vegetables and fruits. However it seem to be difficult to make your child eating vegetables and fruits. That why I have to use a juice extractor to make juice because drinking is always easier than eating.

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