Positive Effects of Metformin, Statins and Diet on Prostate Cancer.

In a May 12th web essay entitled “prostatesnatchers” to which I encourage readers to subscribe, Dr. Mark Scholz, an oncologist,  explained his reasons for recommending the use of the anti-diabetes drug metformin and statins to his patients with prostate cancer.  One of the things that the last 20 years of his career treating prostate cancer had taught him is that a good diet has a favorable effect on inhibiting prostate cancer progression.   As long as his patients with rising PSA levels after surgery stayed on their vegan or macrobiotic diets, their PSA levels would stabilize.  “It is known that high animal protein intake increases cancer risk.  How can diet make such an impact?”  “There are some very logical suppositions.  First, cancer cells “hurt” people by the process of cellular multiplication, ultimately spreading throughout the body and causing organ malfunction. It’s logical to assume that “better fed” cancers, the ones that get plenty of protein and energy, will grow faster and better than cancers that are relatively deprived.  Animal protein not only provides all the necessary amino acids for the construction of new cells, animal protein is invariably accompanied by substantial amounts of a potent energy source—fat (people forget that the average hamburger is over 50% fats).  High protein diets also increase the level of insulin in the blood.  And high insulin levels drive sugar and protein uptake into the cancer cells, further promoting growth.  And lastly, dietary cholesterol is not only a type of “fat,” but it is also a hormonal precursor, a building block for DHEA and testosterone.”
Unfortunately, few men have the ability to follow strict vegan diets. It’s a lot of work and requires constant self-denial.  Certain medications, however, can achieve some of the same effects.  Metformin, a generic medication approved for the treatment of diabetes, suppresses insulin levels in the blood.  Studies in diabetic men with prostate cancer who are treated with metformin have shown lower prostate cancer mortality rates compared to diabetic men who are treated with other types of diabetic medications besides metformin.  Statin pills, medications such as Lipitor and Crestor, dramatically lower cholesterol levels.  Numerous studies have reported higher cure rates in prostate cancer patients receiving radiation who are treated with statins compared to radiation-treated patients who don’t receive a statin.  Regular exercise prolongs life in cancer patients.  If we had a pill that could accomplish what exercise can do—improved energy levels, sleep, digestion, memory, longevity and less depression—everyone would take it.  Many patients are lukewarm about prescription pills like metformin and statins, probably mainly due to concerns about side effects.  But side effects can be anticipated with careful monitoring.  When a medication side effect occurs it can be detected early and when the medication is stopped the problem is almost always resolved.  Following a rigorous macrobiotic diet for the rest of your life is beyond the reach of most of us. Taking an FDA-approved pill, while using careful precautions against potential side effects, is achievable for almost all men.”  For information, a macrobiotic diet involves eating grains as a staple food supplemented with other foods such as local vegetables and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods and most animal products.

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