RPCI Researcher Receives Prostate Cancer Foundation Creativity Award for Dietary-Intervention Study

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Buffalo, NY — Dr. James Marshall, PhD, Senior Vice President for Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and newly named Roswell Park Alliance Foundation Endowed Chair in Cancer Prevention, has received a two-year, $300,000 grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).

The grant is one of 12 Creativity Awards given by the PCF to “support innovative projects because of their potential to fast-forward discovery and deliver game-changing results for prostate cancer research.” Dr. Marshall’s grant will fund a multisite intervention trial that will test the results of putting men with small, low-grade prostate cancers on a diet low in animal products.

Marshall and his team ­— which includes researchers both at RPCI and at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego — will identify 450 men with prostate cancer from across the country, all considered to be low-risk. For the 225 in the experimental group, the researchers will “change the dickens out of their diet.”

Why? Because there are indications that a diet low in animal products like meat and dairy and high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower incidence of prostate cancer. While Dr. Marshall led a similar six-month pilot study launched in 2004, no researchers have comprehensively studied the effects of a radical dietary intervention on men with prostate cancer. “We would love to see it make a difference,” said Dr. Marshall. “But if it doesn’t, it’s important that we know that.”

Assisting with the trial, which furthers Dr. Marshall’s MEAL (Men’s Eating and Living) research, will be Dr. James Mohler, MD, Senior Vice President for Translational Research and Chair of the Department of Urology at RPCI, as well as two researchers at the Moores Center, UC San Diego: Dr. J. Kellogg Parsons, MD, MHS, and Dr. John Pierce, PhD. The inspiration for the trial grew out of dietary-intervention studies Dr. Pierce led involving women with breast cancer, and what Dr. Marshall described as “synergy among researchers.” At a meeting of the national clinical research group Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), he approached Dr. Pierce with the idea of adapting his model for use in a prostate-cancer study.

“We’re sort of riding a wave that’s just hitting the shore right now,” Dr. Marshall noted. “Because prostate-cancer advocacy groups and urologists are recognizing that there’s a lot of surgery that shouldn’t take place, a great deal of radical intervention that changes the lives of men, and that maybe shouldn’t take place.”

The end goal of this research effort, said Dr. Marshall, is prevention. “Prostate cancer is so ubiquitous,” he said. “If we could prevent it from taking off and becoming dangerous, that would be great news.”

The 12 projects funded by the PCF were vetted in a rigorous peer-review process from a field of more than 157 applications. This grant will add to grant support received from the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world’s largest philanthropic source of support for accelerating the world’s most promising research for discovering better treatments and cures for prostate cancer.  Founded in 1993, the PCF has raised nearly $400 million and provided funding to more than 1,500 researchers at nearly 200 institutions worldwide.  PCF advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more efficient investment of governmental research funds for transformational cancer research.  Its efforts have helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer.  More information about the PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org