Life Extension Magazine January 2008
Merv Griffin’s Tragic Death from Prostate Cancer
By William Faloon
By William Faloon
Most of us will remember significant past dates as long as our neurological function remains intact. For me, January 5, 1982 was a date of vindication. On that day nearly 26 years ago, Merv Griffin dedicated his entire one-hour program to our life-saving mission.
That memorable Merv Griffin Show featured Foundation President Saul Kent, Durk Pearson, and several research scientists who enlightened the world to the fact that aging was a process that would some day be controllable. At the end of the show, Merv begged viewers not to write to him, but to contact the Life Extension Foundation for further information. We were subsequently inundated with mail that resulted in an exponential increase in Foundation membership. It was thus sad news for us to learn of Merv Griffin’s tragic death. If it were not for Merv’s repeated and enthusiastic endorsements in the early 1980s, we might not be here as an organization today.
Too Many Needless Deaths
Prostate cancer kills 30,000 Americans each year.1 With proven means of prevention and early detection, death from prostate cancer should be a rarity and not so common that lists of celebrity victims can be found on websites. (See following page for some of the famous men who perished from prostate cancer.)
Merv Griffin was initially treated for prostate cancer back in 1996, but the disease returned with a vengeance to claim his life in 2007. News accounts described Merv’s final days living on feeding tubes and morphine drops, as metastasized prostate cancer cells ravaged his bones, liver, and lungs.
It often takes a celebrity death for the public to pay proper attention to a curable disease. If there is any consolation to the ordeal Merv Griffin suffered, it will be that more men will be screened and follow proven preventive strategies to reduce their risk of developing this insidious disease. For example, a recent study published by the National Cancer Institute showed that men slash their risk of prostate cancer by up to 52% by regularly consuming cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower).2
Every agonizing prostate cancer death begins years or even decades earlier when a small colony of malignant cells forms within the prostate gland. It is at this early stage when prostate cancer should be diagnosed and curative treatment administered. When treatment is delayed or improperly done, these malignant cells, originally confined to the prostate gland, invade surrounding tissues and spread throughout the body.
We don’t know the details of Merv Griffin’s prostate cancer diagnosis or treatment. Based on our multi-decade experience of dealing with prostate cancer, it would appear that Merv was let down by the medical establishment… or perhaps let himself down by failing to follow a comprehensive diagnostic-treatment protocol.
To stop this needless carnage, all men over age 40 should have an annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to detect early-stage disease and follow a lifestyle that drastically reduces the likelihood of contracting prostate cancer in the first place.
Proven Methods to Reduce Prostate and Breast Cancer Risk
For a significant part of the 20th century, tobacco companies (and the unscrupulous scientists they hired) claimed that no one could “prove” that cigarettes caused any disease. Today’s health villains are lobbyists who represent various food industries such as those who sell beef and high-glycemic foods. These lobbyists deceive the public by issuing misleading press releases that the media often picks up on. The lobbyists also infiltrate government “health” agencies to make sure that no official proclamations are made that certain foods increase cancer risk.
There are a number of similarities between breast and prostate cancers. As a convenient rule of thumb, foods associated with lower or higher prostate cancer risks likewise impact breast cancer.
As I watch my own diet more carefully than ever, I am becoming increasingly aware of how many carcinogenic foods are routinely consumed. While I try to limit my beef intake to one or two meals a month, I observe people eating it every day. Those who eat beef sharply increase their risk of many diseases including prostate and breast cancers, yet we are unlikely to see health warnings on beef products the way we do cigarette packs any time soon. The food lobbyists are just too powerful.
The beef industry may argue there is no “proof” its food is dangerous. Two fundamental bases of evidence show otherwise. One is multiple human population studies showing that those who consume lots of beef have sharply higher incidences of prostate cancer.3-7 These human observational studies are supported by specific biological mechanisms showing how beef facilitates cancer progression. (See February 2007 issue of Life Extension magazine—“Eating Your Way to Prostate Cancer” for details.8)
So a simple way to protect against prostate cancer is to eat a healthy diet. That means eating little or no beef and substituting fish and soy. As mentioned earlier, cruciferous vegetables confer powerful protection against prostate cancer.2,9 High-glycemic foods, on the other hand, increase risk.10,11
So with your fish or soy main dish, consume broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or watercress and avoid the bread, potatoes, and sugary desserts that spike glucose-insulin levels. Cancer cells may use insulin as a growth factor, which helps explain why overweight people (who are almost always hyperinsulinemic due to insulin resistance) have much higher incidences of prostate cancer.12-16 Merv Griffin’s up-and-down obesity problems were well publicized and likely fueled his prostate cancer proliferation.
I know most of you have read these dietary recommendations before, and I am also aware that meat, bread, potatoes, and sugary desserts are staples of the Western diet. It is no coincidence that prostate cancer runs rampant amongst Western population groups who consume these carcinogenic foods.
One mission of Life Extension magazine is to remind Foundation members about proven lifestyle factors that increase and decrease disease risks. Against us is a gargantuan food industry that spends billions of dollars each year promoting its lethal products—without any government mandate that a health warning accompany its advertisements (or appear on the label). Also contributing to our
carcinogenic diets is watching other people routinely ingest the types of food we know should be avoided. If everyone at your restaurant table orders a thick steak and baked potato, you are often inclined to follow—just like most people used to conclude their meals by all lighting up a cigarette.
New Year’s resolution time is here, and I cannot think of a better lifestyle change for most people than to improve their diets. I hope what you read in this column will help you make the right choices.
Huge Study May Not Prove Whether Selenium Prevents Prostate Cancer
The government long ago erected hurdles that preclude making a label claim that certain dietary supplements reduce prostate cancer risk. This is unfortunate because persuasive evidence documents the ability of low-cost nutrients like vitamin D,17-22 selenium,23-29 fish oil,30-35 and soy36-44 to reduce prostate cancer (and other disease) incidence.
A huge government-funded study is now going on that is comparing men taking a selenium-alpha tocopherol supplement with a placebo group. The objective of this multi-million dollar study is to “prove” whether selenium-alpha tocopherol prevents prostate cancer.45
The reason this expensive study is being conducted is the large body of evidence showing that these two nutrients lower prostate cancer incidence in humans.
Before the results of this selenium-alpha tocopherol study are even known, we have already identified a serious flaw that will probably render the findings questionable. We now know that other nutrients like vitamin D, along with what a man eats, have a huge impact on prostate cancer incidence. Unless these powerful confounding factors are carefully accounted for, the findings from this selenium-alpha tocopherol study will have little value. That’s because if the placebo group happens to be eating a healthier diet, or has higher average intake of vitamin D, soy, and/or omega-3s, then these placebo subjects may show lower rates of prostate cancer than the group taking the selenium-alpha tocopherol supplement.
This fact reveals a fundamental problem confronting all researchers who seek to “prove” whether a certain supplement prevents a disease. There are too many factors involved in the development and progression of prostate cancer including low levels of testosterone, increased levels of estrogen, co-existing diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and increased dietary saturated fats.46 These confounding factors therefore make it difficult to study just one or two compounds and expect to come up with a validated finding. To make matters worse, the aging population will contract prostate cancer at epidemic levels unless aggressive changes are implemented immediately.
This is why we encourage Foundation members to consume the healthy diets and low-cost supplements that have been shown to sharply reduce prostate cancer incidence. There is simply not enough time left in our generation’s projected life spans to meet the government’s imaginary standards of absolute certainty.
Novel Method to Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk
In this month’s issue, we identify yet another nutrient group—standardized lignans—that has been shown to sharply reduce prostate cancer risk. The good news is that standardized lignans have been added to the most popular prostate health formula that members already take at no additional charge.
Long-time members are well aware that this is the one time of year to purchase all of our advanced formulations at low Super Sale pricing. As we approach another New Year, members can take comfort in knowing there are more documented ways to guard against age-related disease than ever before.
Every time you purchase a nutrient formula to maintain your health, you also contribute to our ambitious research projects aimed at preventing, curing, and eliminating degenerative disease and premature death.
Wishing you a healthy life this New Year,
1. Available at: http://www.prostatecancer foundation.org/site/c.itIWK2OSG/b.97763/k.3BA8/PR_June_18_2004.htm. Accessed September 6, 2007.
2. Kirsh VA, Peters U, Mayne ST, et al. Prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and risk of prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 Aug 1;99(15):1200-9.
3. Rohrmann S, Platz EA, Kavanaugh CJ, et al. Meat and dairy consumption and subsequent risk of prostate cancer in a US cohort study. Cancer Causes Control. 2007 Feb;18(1):41-50.
4. Rodriguez C, McCullough ML, Mondul AM, et al. Meat consumption among Black and White men and risk of prostate cancer in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Feb;15(2):211-6.
5. Walker M, Aronson KJ, King W, et al. Dietary patterns and risk of prostate cancer in Ontario, Canada. Int J Cancer. 2005 Sep 10;116(4):592-8.
6. Cross AJ, Peters U, Kirsh VA, et al. A prospective study of meat and meat mutagens and prostate cancer risk. Cancer Res. 2005 Dec 15;65(24):11779-84.
7. Michaud DS, Augustsson K, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study on intake of animal products and risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Causes Control. 2001 Aug;12(6):557-67.
8. Available at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/feb2007_cover_prostate_01.htm. Accessed September 24, 2007.
9. Xiao D, Lew KL, Zeng Y, et al. Phenethyl isothiocyanate-induced apoptosis in PC-3 human prostate cancer cells is mediated by reactive oxygen species-dependent disruption of the mitochondrial membrane potential. Carcinogenesis. 2006 Nov;27(11):2223-34.
10. Gonzalez CA. Nutrition and cancer: the current epidemiological evidence. Br J Nutr. 2006 Aug;96 Suppl 1:S42-5.
11. Augustin LS, Galeone C, Dal ML, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load and risk of prostate cancer. Int J Cancer. 2004 Nov 10;112(3):446-50.
12. Rodriguez C, Freedland SJ, Deka A, et al. Body mass index, weight change, and risk of prostate cancer in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Jan;16(1):63-9.
13. Lehrer S, Diamond EJ, Stagger S, Stone NN, Stock RG. Serum insulin level, disease stage, prostate specific antigen (PSA) and Gleason score in prostate cancer. Br J Cancer. 2002 Sep 23;87(7):726-8.
14. Hsing AW, Chua S Jr, Gao YT, et al. Prostate cancer risk and serum levels of insulin and leptin: a population-based study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001 May 16;93(10):783-9.
15. Stocks T, Lukanova A, Rinaldi S, et al. Insulin resistance is inversely related to prostate cancer: a prospective study in Northern Sweden. Int J Cancer. 2007 Jun 15;120(12):2678-86.
16. Baillargeon J, Rose DP. Obesity, adipokines, and prostate cancer (review). Int J Oncol. 2006 Mar;28(3):737-45.
17. Li H, Stampfer MJ, Hollis JB, et al. A prospective study of plasma vitamin D metabolites, vitamin D receptor polymorphisms, and prostate cancer. PLoS Med. 2007 Mar;4(3):e103.
18. Beer TM, Myrthue A. Calcitriol in the treatment of prostate cancer. Anticancer Res. 2006 Jul;26(4A):2647-51.
19. Vijayakumar S, Mehta RR, Boerner PS, Packianathan S, Mehta RG. Clinical trials involving vitamin D analogs in prostate cancer. Cancer J. 2005 Sep;11(5):362-73.
20. John EM, Schwartz GG, Koo J, Van Den BD, Ingles SA. Sun exposure, vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms, and risk of advanced prostate cancer. Cancer Res. 2005 Jun 15;65(12):5470-9.
21. Lou YR, Qiao S, Talonpoika R, Syvala H, Tuohimaa P. The role of vitamin D3 metabolism in prostate cancer. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2004 Nov;92(4):317-25.
22. Crescioli C, Maggi M, Luconi M, et al. Vitamin D3 analogue inhibits keratinocyte growth factor signaling and induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells. Prostate. 2002 Jan 1;50(1):15-26.
23. Meyer F, Galan P, Douville P, et al. Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplementation and prostate cancer prevention in the SU.VI.MAX trial. Int J Cancer. 2005 Aug 20;116(2):182-6.
24. Corcoran NM, Najdovska M, Costello AJ. Inorganic selenium retards progression of experimental hormone refractory prostate cancer. J Urol. 2004 Feb;171(2 Pt 1):907-10.
25. Ghosh J. Rapid induction of apoptosis in prostate cancer cells by selenium: reversal by metabolites of arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Mar 12;315(3):624-35.
26. Vogt TM, Ziegler RG, Graubard BI, et al. Serum selenium and risk of prostate cancer in U.S. blacks and whites. Int J Cancer. 2003 Feb 20;103(5):664-70.
27. Duffield-Lillico AJ, Reid ME, Turnbull BW, et al. Baseline characteristics and the effect of selenium supplementation on cancer incidence in a randomized clinical trial: a summary report of the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Jul;11(7):630-9.
28. Yoshizawa K, Willett WC, Morris SJ, et al. Study of prediagnostic selenium level in toenails and the risk of advanced prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Aug 19;90(16):1219-24.
29. Clark LC, Dalkin B, Krongrad A, et al. Decreased incidence of prostate cancer with selenium supplementation: results of a double-blind cancer prevention trial. Br J Urol. 1998 May;81(5):730-4.
30. Brown MD, Hart CA, Gazi E, Bagley S, Clarke NW. Promotion of prostatic metastatic migration towards human bone marrow stoma by Omega 6 and its inhibition by Omega 3 PUFAs. Br J Cancer. 2006 Mar 27;94(6):842-53.
31. Kelavkar UP, Hutzley J, Dhir R, et al. Prostate tumor growth and recurrence can be modulated by the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in diet: athymic mouse xenograft model simulating radical prostatectomy. Neoplasia. 2006 Feb;8(2):112-24.
32. Hardman WE. (n-3) fatty acids and cancer therapy. J Nutr. 2004 Dec;134(12 Suppl):3427S-30S.
33. Terry P, Lichtenstein P, Feychting M, Ahlbom A, Wolk A. Fatty fish consumption and risk of prostate cancer. Lancet. 2001 Jun 2;357(9270):1764-6.
34. Rose DP. Dietary fatty acids and prevention of hormone-responsive cancer. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1997 Nov;216(2):224-33.
35. Lin X, Gingrich JR, Bao W, et al. Effect of flaxseed supplementation on prostatic carcinoma in transgenic mice. Urology. 2002 Nov;60(5):919-24.
36. Heald CL, Ritchie MR, Bolton-Smith C, Morton MS, Alexander FE. Phyto-oestrogens and risk of prostate cancer in Scottish men. Br J Nutr. 2007 Aug;98(2):388-96.
37. Hedelin M, Klint A, Chang ET, et al. Dietary phytoestrogen, serum enterolactone and risk of prostate cancer: the cancer prostate Sweden study (Sweden). Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Mar;17(2):169-80.
38. Holzbeierlein JM, McIntosh J, Thrasher JB. The role of soy phytoestrogens in prostate cancer. Curr Opin Urol. 2005 Jan;15(1):17-22.
39. Kumar NB, Cantor A, Allen K, et al. The specific role of isoflavones in reducing prostate cancer risk. Prostate. 2004 May 1;59(2):141-7.
40. Lee MM, Gomez SL, Chang JS, et al. Soy and isoflavone consumption in relation to prostate cancer risk in China. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Jul;12(7):665-8.
41. McCann SE, Ambrosone CB, Moysich KB, et al. Intakes of selected nutrients, foods, and phytochemicals and prostate cancer risk in western New York. Nutr Cancer. 2005;53(1):33-41.
42. McCann MJ, Gill CI, McGlynn H, Rowland IR. Role of mammalian lignans in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2005;52(1):1-14.
43. Bylund A, Saarinen N, Zhang JX, et al. Anticancer effects of a plant lignan 7-hydroxymatairesinol on a prostate cancer model in vivo. Exp Biol Med (Maywood.). 2005 Mar;230(3):217-23.
44. Vij U, Kumar A. Phyto-oestrogens and prostatic growth. Natl Med J India. 2004 Jan;17(1):22-6.
45. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Prevention/SELECT. Accessed October 22, 2007.
46. O’Malley RL, Taneja SS. Obesity and prostate cancer. Can J Urol. 2006 Apr;13 Suppl 2:11-7.