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Dr. Ornish’s 35 years of research has scientifically proven that the integrative lifestyle changes he recommends can improve chronic conditions.

Research Highlights

For more than 35 years, Dean Ornish, M.D. and his colleagues at the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute (PMRI) in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco and other leading academic institutions, have conducted a series of research studies showing that changes in diet and lifestyle can make a powerful difference in our health and well-being, how quickly these changes may occur, and how dynamic these mechanisms can be.


Telomerase


Increase Telomerase, the enzyme that maintains telomere length

Results of this study, published in the journal Lancet Oncology, showed, for the first time, that changing lifestyle significantly increases telomerase. Telomerase is the enzyme responsible for maintaining telomere length. Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes that influence how long we live. This is the first time that any intervention, even drugs, has been shown to significantly increase telomerase.

“Increased telomerase activity and comprehensive lifestyle changes: a pilot study.”
Lancet Oncology (PDF)

Telomerase and the Benefits of Healthy Living”
Lancet Oncology (PDF)

Telomeres


Increase Telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that control cell aging

A pilot study, published in The Lancet Oncology, shows that comprehensive lifestyle changes may increase the length of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that control cell ageing. This is the first study to show that any intervention might lengthen telomeres over time. If the findings are confirmed by larger randomised controlled trials, scientists will begin to have a better understanding of how lifestyle changes may have the potential to reverse ageing on a cellular level.

Lifestyle changes lengthen telomeres
Lancet Oncology (PDF)


Gene Expression


Turn on health-promoting genes & turn off disease-promoting genes

In this study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (www.pnas.org), we found that over 500 genes were affected by lifestyle changes. In fact, certain disease preventing genes were up-regulated, or turned on, and certain disease promoting genes, including oncogenes involved in cancer, were down-regulated, or turned off. The results of this study suggest that comprehensive lifestyle changes may cause changes in gene expression that could be beneficial to the general population as well as to those with prostate cancer.

“Changes in prostate gene expression in men undergoing an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention.”
Preceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): www.pnas.org (PDF)


Prostate Cancer

Slow, Stop, or Reverse the Progression of Early-Stage Prostate Cancer

We examined the effects of intensive lifestyle changes on men with early stage Prostate Cancer after 1 year. After 1 year, none of the men in the experimental group underwent conventional treatments compared to 6 in the control group. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) decreased 4% in the experimental group compared to a 6% increase in the control group, and prostate cancer cell growth was inhibited almost eight times as much in the experimental group compared to the control group. These results indicate that intensive lifestyle changes may effect the progression of early low grade prostate cancer.

“Intensive Lifestyle Changes May Effect the Progression of Prostate Cancer”
Journal of Urology (PDF)

“Changes in prostate gene expression in men undergoing an intensive nutrition and lifestyle intervention”
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PDF)

“Increased telomerase activity and comprehensive lifestyle changes: a pilot study”
Lancet Oncology (PDF)

“Relationship of Dietary Protein and Soy Isoflavones to Serum IGF-1 and IGF Binding Proteins in the Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial”
Nutrition and Cancer (PDF)


Heart Disease


Reverse & Prevent Heart Disease

We examined the ability of patients enrolled in the Lifestyle Heart Trial to sustain intensive lifestyle changes for a total of five years and the effects of these lifestyle changes on coronary heart disease. We measured adherence to lifestyle changes, changes in coronary artery percent diameter stenosis, and cardiac events. Outcomes in the experimental group showed significant improvement relative to controls. Additionally, compared to 1 year follow up, 5 year follow ups showed greater improvement relative to controls.

“Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease”
Journal of the American Medical Association (PDF)

“Changes in Myocardial Perfusion Abnormalities by Positron Emission Tomography After Long-Term, Intense Risk Factor Modification”
Journal of the American Medical Association (PDF)

“Can Lifestyle Changes Reverse Coronary Heart Disease?”
The Lancet (PDF)

“Effects of Stress Management Training & Dietary Changes in Treating Ischemic Heart Disease”
Journal of the American Medical Association (PDF)

“Improved Stenosis Geometry by Quantitative Coronary Arteriography After Vigorous Risk Factor Modification”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

“Statins and the Soul of Medicine”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

“Improvement in Medical Risk Factors & Quality of Life in Women and Men With Coronary Artery Disease in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Trial”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

“Long Term Effects of Lifestyle Changes on Well-Being and Cardiac Variables Among Coronary Heart Disease Patients”
Health Psychology (PDF)

“The Contribution of Changes in Diet, Exercise, and Stress Management in Coronary Risks in Women and Men in the Multisite Cardiac Lifestyle Intervention Program”
Annals of Behavioral Medicine (PDF)

“Lifestyle Changes and Clinical Profile in Heart Disease Patients with an Ejection Fraction of ≤40% or ≥ 40% in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project”
The European Journal of Heart Failure (PDF)

“Effects of Pomegranite Juice Consumption on Myocardial Perfusion in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

“Angina Pectoris and Atherosclerotic Risk Factors in the Multisite Cardiac Lifestyle Intervention Program”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

“Socioeconomic Status and Improvements in Lifestyle, Coronary Risk Factors, and Quality of life: The Multisite Cardiac Lifestyle Intervention Program”
American Journal of Public Health (PDF)

“Relation of B-Type Natriuretic Peptide Levels to Body Mass Index After Comprehensive Lifestyle Changes”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

“Dean Ornish, MD: A Conversation With the Editor
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)


Diabetes & Pre-diabetes


Reverse and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

Patients with diabetes were able to follow the Ornish program and show the same improvements in coronary risk factors and quality of life as those without diabetes.  Patients showed statistically significant decreases in their HgbA1c, and many were able to reduce their diabetes medication.

“Comparison of coronary risk factors and quality of life in coronary artery disease patients with versus without diabetes mellitus”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

“The effectiveness and efficacy of an intensive cardiac rehabilitation program in 24 sites”
American Journal of Health Promotion (PDF)


Weight Loss


Lose Weight and  Improve BMI

Patients who participated in the 12 week Ornish program showed statistically significant improvements in their in their weight and their BMI, reporting an average 20 pound weight loss in 12 months

“The effectiveness and efficacy of an intensive cardiac rehabilitation program in 24 sites”
American Journal of Health Promotion (PDF)

“Improvement in medical risk factors and quality of life in women and men with coronary artery disease in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)


Cholesterol


Lower Cholesterol

Patients who participated in the 12 week Ornish program showed statistically significant improvements in their total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerdies.  In fact, patients lowered their LDL-cholesterol levels by an average of 40%.

“The effectiveness and efficacy of an intensive cardiac rehabilitation program in 24 sites”
American Journal of Health Promotion (PDF)

“A Very-Low-Fat Vegan Diet Increases Intake of Protective Dietary Factors and Decreases Intake of Pathogenic Dietary Factors”
The American Dietetic Association (PDF)


Blood Pressure


Lower Blood Pressure

Patients who followed the Ornish program lowered their systolic and diastolic blood pressure after only 12 weeks, and many were able to decrease their blood pressure medication

“The effectiveness and efficacy of an intensive cardiac rehabilitation program in 24 sites”
American Journal of Health Promotion (PDF)


Depression


Relieve Depression

Our research showed that patients with depression and metabolic syndrome were able to make significant intensive diet and lifestyle changes. In fact, 73% of patients with depressive symptoms became non-depressed after only 12 weeks, with both men and women showing similar improvements in depression.

“Lifestyle changes are related to reductions in depression in persons with elevated coronary risk factors”
Psychology and Health (PDF)

“The effectiveness and efficacy of an intensive cardiac rehabilitation program in 24 sites”
American Journal of Health Promotion (PDF)

Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Projects

Optimize Outcomes & Cost-Savings

“Improvement in Medical Risk Factors and Quality of Life in Women and Men With Coronary Artery Disease in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

We examined baseline and 3 month medical and psychosocial characteristics of women and men enrolled in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project. Results showed significant improvements in diet, exercise and stress management, as well as improvements in medical and psychosocial characteristics. These improvements occured in spite of gender differences in medical, psychosocial and sociodemographic status. These results suggest that programs focusing on intensive lifestyle changes can be successfully implemented in diverse regions of the United States, and may be particularly helpful for women with heart disease, who generally have higher mortality and morbidity rates than men after a cardiac event.

“Avoiding Revascularization with Lifestyle Changes: The Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project”
American Journal of Cardiology (PDF)

We examined the potential of intensive lifestyle changes as a direct alternative to revascularization procedures on patients enrolled in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project. Results showed that patients in the experimental group were able to avoid revascularization for at least 3 years without increasing cardiac morbidity and mortality. These changes also came at a significantly lower cost than a revascularization procedure. These patients also reported experiencing reductions in angina similar to what was reported after a revascularization.

“The Effectiveness and Efficacy of an Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program in 24 Sites”
American Journal of Health Promotion (PDF)