~ Diet and Exercise Program Lowers Breast Cancer Risk Factors in Less Than Two Weeks

July 22, 2005

The International Research Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Cancer was the site of a presentation this week by researchers from UCLA concerning their findings that women who followed the Pritikin Diet and engaged in regular exercise experienced reduced levels of serum estradiol, insulin and insulin-like growth factor, all of which are positively associated with an elevated risk of breast cancer. The Pritkin diet, which is low in fat, sugar and sodium, consists mainly of vegetables, fruits and grains.

Lead researcher and UCLA professor of physiological science James Barnard, PhD, and colleagues collected blood samples from 26 postmenopausal women who enrolled in a thirteen day diet and exercise program at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida. Blood samples drawn on the first and last days of the program were analyzed for serum estradiol, insulin and insulin-like growth factor. The serum samples were transferred to UCLA and administered to three different breast cancer cell line cultures.

By the end of the 13 day period, the participants' estradiol levels dropped by 37%, insulin by 29% and IGF-1 by 19%. Serum from blood drawn at the conclusion of the program increased programmed cell death in the cancer cell cultures by 20 to 30% and reduced their growth by as much as 19% compared to cultures treated with serum collected at the beginning of the program. Dr Barnard concluded, "This is the first study to my knowledge to show that lifestyle changes can induce apoptosis, or cell death, in breast cancer cells."

William McCarthy, PhD of UCLA’s School of Public Health added, "This is exciting research because it shows that women can make changes in a very short period of time that can have a dramatic impact on their health – in this case, on the growth and death of breast cancer cells."
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