(HealthDay News) — For men with low-risk prostate cancer, a comprehensive lifestyle intervention is associated with increased telomere length after 5 years of follow-up, according to a study published online Sept. 17 in The Lancet Oncology.

Dean Ornish, M.D., from the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a follow-up study to assess the long-term effects of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity in human immune-system cells in 10 men and 25 external controls with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer who had chosen to undergo active surveillance. The intervention comprised a program of comprehensive lifestyle changes (diet, activity, stress management, and social support). Telomere length and telomerase activity were measured at five years, and then compared with baseline.

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The researchers found that, in the lifestyle intervention group, relative telomere length increased from baseline by a median of 0.06 telomere to single-copy gene ratio (T/S) units, and decreased by 0.03 T/S units in the control group. After combining data from the two groups and adjusting for age and length of follow-up, adherence to lifestyle changes correlated significantly with relative telomere length (T/S units increased by 0.07 for each percentage point increase in lifestyle adherence score).

In the lifestyle intervention and control groups, at five years, telomerase activity had decreased by 0.25 and 1.08 units, respectively, from baseline (P = 0.64). There was no correlation between telomerase activity and lifestyle changes.

“In conclusion, our comprehensive lifestyle intervention was associated with significant increases in relative telomere length in men with early-stage prostate cancer, compared with active surveillance alone,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Telome Health and Healthways.