Researchers have long suspected there is a connection between what we eat and our cancer risk.
At Cedars-Sinai, scientists at the Center for Integrated Research in Cancer and Lifestyle (CIRCL) are working to better understand these connections.
“I want to be able to tell patients: ‘Based on evidence, if you do this or that, we can actually change your tumor.'”
Right now they’re taking aim at prostate cancer, a cancer that affects 1 in 9 men. Led by Dr. Stephen Freedland, the Walnuts for Power study is looking at one potential way to limit the progression of this disease.
To learn more about this research, we went straight to the source.
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What are you studying?
Dr. Freedland: We are studying the effects of walnut intake on prostate cancer progression. Specifically looking at prostate cancer, we think there may be some benefit in walnuts. They have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols, both of which are good for you.
Our study focuses on patients who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and plan to undergo radical prostatectomy, or surgery to remove the prostate.
Our goal is to determine whether daily walnut consumption will slow prostate cancer growth compared to no daily walnut consumption.
What is the goal of this study?
Dr. Freedland: Our goal is to find ways that diet could potentially reduce the aggressiveness of prostate cancer.
How are you studying this?
Dr. Freedland: For the study, men who are scheduled to have their prostates removed will be assigned to one of two groups randomly.
One group will be asked to eat 2 ounces of walnuts each day and otherwise continue with their usual diet. The other group will be asked to make no changes to their diet.
At the end of the study, they will have their scheduled surgery. We will take some of the tumor tissue and look at molecular markers within the tumor and compare them to the initial biopsy molecular markers taken at diagnosis.
Anywhere from 4-10 weeks will have passed since that first biopsy so we will be looking for any change to those tissues and comparing the walnut group to the non-walnut group.
Why are you studying this?
Dr. Freedland: There’s a lot of interest in how lifestyle and diet impact cancer. One of the main questions I get from patients after we make a treatment plan is, “What should I eat?”
The problem is, we don’t have a lot of answers. I want to be able to tell patients: “Based on evidence, if you do this or that, we can actually change your tumor.”