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How lifestyle changes affect certain prostate cancer patients

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Men with early-stage, localized prostate cancer who made lifestyle changes, including a low-fat, plant-based diet, moderate exercise and stress management, experienced a significant increase in telomere length. Dr. Dean Ornish, who led the University of California, San Francisco study, explains that telomeres are the ends of chromosomes that control cellular aging. Until now, it was thought they could only get shorter.

Ornish:          Now we found that they can actually get longer. Other studies have looked at one moment in time and found, for example, that people who run a lot tend to have longer telomeres or people who smoke cigarettes have shorter telomeres or women who are chronic caregivers under chronic emotional stress, have taken care of parents with Alzheimer's or kids with autism, tend to have shorter telomeres. But they were just looking at one moment in time. In our study, we actually intervened. We gave people a lifestyle program, we had a control group to compare it to and we found that overall the telomeres got longer in the group that made these lifestyle changes and shorter in the group that did not.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.