Dean Ornish

Stories by Dean Ornish

  • Changing Your Lifestyle Can Change Your Genes

    New research shows that improved diet, meditation and other non-medical interventions can actually "turn off" the disease-promoting process in men with prostate cancer.
  • Dean Ornish: What to Do About Overweight Kids

    The childhood obesity epidemic has been called 'the terrorist threat from within.' Now researchers armed with $500 million are taking aim at this public health disaster.
  • Health: Prevention is Worth the Money

    Don't be misled by recent reports, changes in diet and lifestyle are still the most effective way to lower health-care costs. You'll feel better, too.
  • New Treatments for Cancer, Obesity

    Judah Folkman transformed our understanding of cancer. Now his groundbreaking work is leading to new strategies for fighting obesity, Alzheimer's and scores of other conditions.
  • Ornish: Forget About Willpower

    The real secret to sticking to your New Year's resolutions is knowing you want to lose weight and live healthier. Fear of dying is not sustainable; joy of living is.
  • More Good News on Chocolate

    Not only does it taste good, studies show that it improves blood flow to your heart, lowers blood pressure, and other good stuff. What you need to know about a sweet and healthy favorite.
  • Ornish: A Doctor's View of Torture

    There are important reasons why the most sacred medical oaths and doctrines prohibit doctors from participating in torture in any way.
  • Ornish: Stop Stress-Related Weight Gain

    New studies show that stress not only makes you gain weight, but it affects what you eat and even where you pack on those extra pounds. What you can do to stop it.
  • Ornish: How to Fix Health Insurance

    Because of a growing awareness that the current system is unsustainable, reformers are promoting disease prevention. A look at one campaign leader.
  • The Threat From Within

    This may be the first generation in which children live a shorter life span than their parents. If this were caused by a new virus or pathogen, or if some madman was harming our children, there would be a call to action from most parents, an uprising and an uproar. But it's not some external germ or sinister force that's eating our young; it's what our young are eating—too much fat, salt and sugar. And it's not only what they're doing, but also what they're not doing—a lack of regular exercise.So many kids in our country are overweight, they're getting sick and dying prematurely. Overweight kids suffer disproportionately from diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and other serious health problems. A study last summer in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that being overweight at 18 is associated with an increased risk of premature death in younger and middle-aged women.Since 1970, the percentage of kids who are overweight or obese has risen almost fourfold, from 4.2 percent to 15...
  • Ornish: Diet and 'Good' Cholesterol

    The recent failure of a potential blockbuster drug designed to increase so-called 'good cholesterol' raises important issues about diet and heart health. What is HDL, anyway?
  • Please Hold the Bacon

    An article published in The New England Journal of Medicine last week concluded that "diets lower in carbohydrate and higher in protein and fat are not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in women." Woo-hoo! Bring out the bacon and eggs and let's get this party started! Well, not exactly. I described the significant limitations of this study in my online column ( ). Here I'd like to focus on what is an optimal diet.The researchers found that those who ate fewer refined carbohydrates and got more of their protein and fat from vegetables rather than animal sources cut their heart-disease risk by 30 percent on average, compared with those who ate more animal fats. These findings support a growing consensus about an optimal way of eating: low in "bad fats," such as saturated and trans fats; low in "bad carbs" (refined carbohydrates), such as sugar and white flour; and including sufficient "good fats" and "good carbs." Good fats are in fish oil and some...
  • Guest Column: Statins

    What can you do to improve your cholesterol level besides taking drugs? You have a spectrum of choices. Here are some proven approaches:1: Begin by making moderate changes in your diet; if that's not enough to lower your cholesterol level sufficiently, you can make progressively bigger changes until it does.2: Eat less saturated fat, found predominantly in animal products such as red meat, butter and cream, and in tropical oils.3: Cut back on trans-fatty acids, found in most fried foods and processed foods, such as cakes, cookies and snack foods. If the label says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, then avoid it.4: Limit your intake of simple carbohydrates, like sugar, white flour, white rice and high-fructose corn syrup, which can markedly increase your triglycerides.5: Eat more unrefined, complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products.6: Exercise, which can lower your bad LDL cholesterol as well as raise your good HDL cholesterol.7:...
  • Guest Column: How To Stress Less

    Middle East meltdown. Global-warming meltdown. Nuclear meltdown. You can't always change what's going on in the world, but there is a lot you can do about how it affects you: ...
  • Smarter Choices

    For the past 30 years, my colleagues and I at the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco have conducted research showing that comprehensive lifestyle changes may reverse the progression of coronary heart disease, prostate cancer, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, elevated cholesterol and other chronic conditions. Here's what works to make and maintain changes in nutrition and lifestyle:You have a spectrum of choices. It's not all or nothing. To the degree you move in a healthful direction on this spectrum, you're likely to feel better, look better, lose weight and gain health. If you're trying to reverse heart disease, then you probably need to make bigger changes than someone who just wants to lose a few pounds.Even more than feeling healthy, most people want to feel free and in control. If I tell people, "Eat this and don't eat that," or "Don't smoke," they immediately want to do the opposite. Make choices to empower...
  • Guest Column: Lifestyle Changes May Save Your Life

    With the legitimate concerns about pandemics of AIDS and avian flu, it's easy to forget that cardiovascular disease is the biggest pandemic of all time and that diabetes and obesity aren't far behind. Today's children may be the first to have a shorter life span than their parents. However, these chronic diseases can be prevented, even reversed, in most people just by making sufficient diet and lifestyle changes.The problem is that most insurance companies pay only for drugs and surgery. Despite all the talk about evidence-based medicine, we really live in an era of reimbursement-based medicine. As P. Diddy sings, "It's all about the Benjamins" ($100 bills).Last year, for example, more than 1 million coronary angioplasties and more than 400,000 coronary bypass operations were performed in the United States at a cost of more than $100 billion. Yet a remarkable study published in the journal Circulation, reviewing 11 randomized controlled trials of angioplasty, found the procedure...
  • Guest Column: Should We Export Illness Or Health?

    Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing that recent immigrants reported significantly better physical and mental health than their U.S.-born counterparts. People become progressively less healthy the longer they stay here.Why? When people move here, they rapidly forgo their own healthier diets and lifestyles. Unfortunately, other countries are beginning to eat like us, live like us and die like us. Chronic diseases have gone from being among the least common to the most frequent causes of premature death and disease in most of the developing world. A globalization of illness is occurring that is almost completely preventable.An Asian way of eating and living may help prevent and even reverse the progression of coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, prostate cancer and breast cancer. Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products and fish in your diet. Eat at home more with your family and friends....
  • Globalizing Health

    The United States spends considerably more on health care (actually, disease care) than any other country in the world.  So, is all this money buying us the best health in the world?No.Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing that recent immigrants reported significantly better physical and mental health (such as lower rates of obesity and high blood pressure) than their U.S.-born counterparts, despite having limited access to health care and little or no health insurance.  The study found that people from other countries (African-American, Asian and Hispanic) who move to the United States become progressively less healthy the longer they stay in the country.  Those who were U.S. residents for five years or more were 54 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 25 percent more likely to have cardiovascular diseases, for example, than those who lived here less than five years.In other words, moving to the United States can make you...
  • Guest Column: Cut More Fat To Fight Disease

    The real lesson of the Women's Health Initiative study is this: if you don't change much, you don't improve much. Small changes in diet don't have much effect on preventing coronary heart disease and cancer. But bigger changes in diet and lifestyle may prevent heart attacks in almost everyone. In our studies, we found that people who already have heart disease or prostate cancer may slow, stop or even reverse its progression just by making intensive changes in diet and lifestyle. The more people changed their diet and lifestyle, the more improvement we saw.You have a spectrum of choices. If you're at high risk or are trying to reverse heart disease or prevent the recurrence of cancer, you probably need to make bigger changes in diet and lifestyle than someone who just wants to lose a few pounds and is otherwise healthy. If you just want to lower your cholesterol, weight or blood pressure, begin by making moderate changes. If that's enough to achieve your goals, great; if not, then...
  • The Facts About Fat

    The Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday reported the results of the Women's Health Initiative dietary modification study, which followed nearly 49,000 middle-aged women for more than eight years, comparing those on a regular diet to those on a low-fat diet. The women in the dietary change group were asked to eat less fat and more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains each day to see if it could help prevent heart disease and cancer. The women in the comparison group were not asked to change their diets.What did researchers find? According to the study: Low-fat diets don't protect against heart disease, or stroke, or breast cancer, or colon cancer.OK, so maybe you're a little confused? A little crazed? You're not alone.For many years, doctors (like me) have been telling you about the benefits of a low-fat diet. It's as American as apple pie (well, maybe that's the wrong metaphor...). So you may be thinking now, "You mean all those doughnuts and butter that I didn't...

    People who survive a heart attack often describe it as a wake-up call. But for a 61-year-old executive I met recently, it was more than that. This man was in the midst of a divorce when he was stricken last spring, and he had fallen out of touch with friends and family members. The executive's doctor, unaware of the strife in his life, counseled him to change his diet, start exercising and quit smoking. He also prescribed drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It was sound advice, but in combing the medical literature, the patient discovered that he needed to do more. Studies suggested that his risk of dying within six months would be four times greater if he remained depressed and lonely. So he joined a support group and reordered his priorities, placing relationships at the top of the list instead of the bottom. His health has improved steadily since then, and so has his outlook on life. In fact he now describes his heart attack as the best thing that ever happened to him....