A new study has suggested that prostate cancer causing genes may be turned off by better diet and exercise.
The study led by Dean Ornish from the University of California, San Francisco, US, involving 30 men with early-stage prostate cancer showed that favourable changes in lifestyle have a vital impact over gene expression in the prostate.
Analysis of biopsies from patients, taken before and after 3 months of healthy eating, moderate exercise, stress management and psychotherapy, showed a significant change in the expression of hundreds of genes.
They found that genes responsible for tumour formation were down-regulated, or less active and genes responsible for keeping diseases at bay were more active.
In a study conducted in 2005, Ornish and his team had shown how lifestyle changes could reduce certain markers of prostate cancer, thereby slowing its progression.
"Now we are starting to understand some of the genetic mechanisms by which these changes may exert such a powerful outcome," New Scientist quoted Ornish, as saying.
"The implications may be much more widespread, and not just limited to men for that matter.
"Two prominent cancer-causing genes called RAN and Shoc2, which were suppressed by the lifestyle changes, are found in most kinds of tumors, including breast and colon cancer," he added.
Meir Stampfer, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School said that it is an important first step, however, long-term follow-up studies are needed to determine if these genetic changes can truly slow or prevent cancer.
The study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.