Often, we hear people say, “Oh, I’ve got bad genes, there’s nothing I can do about it”.  

There was a study published showing that comprehensive Lifestyle modification programs actually changed the expression of over 500 genes in men with early-stage prostate cancer.  This study was conducted at the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California. 

In this study, gene expression in biopsies from 30 men who were diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer was studied.  These men had decided not to undergo conventional treatments such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy for reasons unrelated to the study.  

Their prostates were biopsied at the beginning of the study and again three months later, after making comprehensive lifestyle changes.  Because these patients did not have any conventional treatments during the time of the study, it was not difficult to assess the effects of the lifestyle changes on gene expression without any other confounding factors such as radiation, chemotherapy or surgery.

The comprehensive lifestyle modification programs included:

a) A plant-based diet (predominant fruits, vegetables, legumes, soy products, and whole grains low in refined carbohydrates). The diet was supplemented with soy, fish oil (three grams/day), vitamin E (100 units/day), selenium (200 mg/day), and vitamin C (2 grams/day).

b) Moderate exercise (walking 30 minutes per day)

c) Stress management techniques (stretching, breathing techniques, meditation etc.) 

d) Participating in a weekly one-hour support group.   

After three months, the biopsy was repeated and the researchers looked at changes in normal tissue within the prostate.  It was found that many disease-promoting genes (including those associated with cancer, heart disease, and inflammation) were down-regulated or “turned off,” whereas protective, disease-preventing genes were up-regulated or “turned on.”  

This particular study showed that lifestyle changes may slow, stop, or even reverse the progression of prostate cancer. According to the researchers, if a person has a strong family history for diseases such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, or heart disease– “bad genes”– then he/she may need to make bigger changes in lifestyle in order to help prevent or even reverse chronic diseases.  In most cases, our genes are only a predisposition. It’s not all in our genes.


Wishing you the best of health! 

Dr. Dawit Mengistu  (Mobile 0920 244516     

email: dawitmengistu4@yahoo.com)