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Monday, June 17, 2024

O.J. Simpson died as result of aggressive prostate cancer

Dr. Gabe Mirkin

O.J. Simpson died from the complications of prostate cancer on April 10, 2024, shortly after he had received chemotherapy. He was 76 years old. He was respected as one of America’s best football players, but lost a lot of personal respect after the 1994 death of his ex-wife and her friend.

Simpson is regarded as one of the greatest running backs of all time. He played most of his college football at the University of Southern California, where he won the Heisman Trophy as a senior, and was selected first overall by the Buffalo Bills in 1969. In 11 seasons in the National Football League:

  • He received five consecutive Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selections from 1972 to 1976
  • He led the League in rushing yards four times, in rushing touchdowns twice, and in points scored once and in 1973 set a record for gaining more than 2,000 yards in a season
  • He still holds the record for the single-season yards-per-game average at 143.1 yards.
  • In 1973, he was the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player
  • In 1983 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and in 1985 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After football, he repeatedly got into all sorts of trouble.

  • In 1994 he was acquitted of killing his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, but in 1997, he was found liable for their deaths in a civil suit from families of the victims. He never paid the $33.5 million judgment against him.
  • In 2007, he was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with armed robbery and kidnapping. In 2008, he was convicted and sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment with a minimum of nine years without parole.
  • In 2017, he was paroled from prison
  • in May 2023, he announced that he had received chemotherapy to treat his prostate cancer
  • in February 2024 he denied being in hospice care and claimed that he was just visiting a friend there.
  • on April 10, 2024 he died from complications of prostate cancer
O.J. Simpson posted a video to his X account denying he was in hospice
O.J. Simpson posted a video to his X account denying he was in hospice.

His Tough Early Years
Simpson grew up in San Francisco and developed rickets from severe vitamin D deficiency and had to wear braces on his legs until he was five. He claimed that rickets caused his severe case of bowlegs, but most of the fastest sprinters in the world today have bow legs, flat feet and pigeon toes that help them to run very fast. His parents separated when he was five, and he and his sister were raised by their mother in a housing project. His father later announced that he was gay. Simpson joined a street gang and after his third arrest, baseball star Willie Mays told him to concentrate on sports and stop getting into trouble.

He was an outstanding high school football player and went on to play at City College of San Francisco in 1965. The University of Southern California (USC) offered him a scholarship to play for them and he was the leading college rusher in 1967 with 1,543 yards and 13 touchdowns, and again in 1968 with 1,880 yards on 383 carries. In 1968, his incredible speed and agility helped him score 22 touchdowns and he won the Heisman Trophy as America’s best college football player, the Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award. He was also one of the fastest college runners. At the 1967 NCAA track championships in Provo, Utah, he ran in the sprint relay team that broke the world record in the 4 × 110-yard relay.

Most Men Will Get Prostate Cancer
Almost all North American men will develop prostate cancer if they live long enough. Autopsy studies find prostate cancer in 80 percent of men in their seventies (Int J Cancer, November 15, 1977;20(5):680–8). Today, nearly 2.5 million men in the U.S. are living with a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but only a small percentage will die from it. More than 50 percent of North American men will develop prostate cancer by age 60 (J Natl Cancer Inst (2013) 105 (14):1050-1058) and five percent of men have it by age 30 (Int J Cancer, 2015 Oct 1; 137(7): 1749–1757). Unlike many other cancers, prostate cancer usually grows very slowly and does not kill most men who have it.

A team of researchers from Harvard and UC-San Francisco conducted a comprehensive review of studies on dietary and lifestyle factors that appear to affect prostate cancer progression (World J Urol, 2017 Jun; 35(6): 867–874). The references listed below are among the many studies cited in this review.

Foods associated with reduced prostate cancer risk include:

  • Fruits and vegetables (J Natl Cancer Inst 2007;99:1200-1209; 2002;94:1648-1651). Most fruits and vegetables are rich sources of soluble fiber that is associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer (J Nutr, 2014 Apr 1;144(4):504–10). Yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash contain carotenoids associated with reduced prostate cancer risk.
  • Cruciferous vegetables contain isothiocyanates and indoles such as sulforaphane that are associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer (Int J Urol, 2012;19:134-141) and the aggressive type of prostate cancer (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2007;99:1200–1209). Examples include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, mustard greens, radishes, bok choy and Swiss chard.
  • Beans, mushrooms and seeds have antioxidants that help to prevent prostate cancer (Int J Cancer, 2008 Jun 2;123(4):927–32).
  • The onion family including garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives contain organo-sulfur compounds with anti-cancer effects and are associated with reduced prostate cancer risk (Amer J of Clin Nutr, 2006;84:1027-1032).
  • Berries such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries have antioxidants that help protect your body from free radicals that can cause cancer (Nutr Cancer, 2013;65:793-801).
  • Tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been shown in some studies to inhibit prostate cancer growth and spread (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2014;106(2):djt430). Several studies associate eating tomatoes with reduced risk for prostate cancer (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2002;94:391–398), and cooking increases their lycopene content (Exp Biol Med (Maywood), 2002;227:852-859).
  • Tea, which contains antioxidant compounds called catechins, is associated with reduced risk for prostate cancer in some studies but not in others (Am J Epidemiol, 2008;167:71–77).
  • Coffee is associated with a significant reduction in risk for the aggressive form of prostate cancer in several epidemiological studies (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2011;103:876–884), and in progression of prostate cancer in men who already have that diagnosis (Cancer Causes Control, 2013;24:1947–1954).
  • Fish has mixed results in studies on prostate cancer risk. Several epidemiological studies show that men who eat fish regularly are at reduced risk for death from prostate cancer, while other studies show that there is no association between eating fish and risk of aggressive prostate cancer (Am J Clin Nutr, 2010;92:1223–1233). On the other hand, some studies show that men with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids from eating fish regularly are at increased risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer (J Natl Cancer Inst, 2013;105:1132–1141).

Foods associated with increased risk for prostate cancer include:

  • Processed meats such as salami, bologna, sausage, bacon and hot dogs (Am J Epidemiol, 2009;170:1165–1177). The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humans.
  • All meats from mammals (Acta Oncol, 2005;44:277-281). Suggested but unproven causes include Neu5Gc and TMAO.
  • Deep fried foods. Cooking at high temperatures without water forms heterocyclic amines that are associated with increased cancer risk (Nutr Cancer, Jul 17, 2009;61(4):437–46). When you fry without water, sugar binds to the protein in meat to form AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts that are known carcinogens (PLoS ONE, Nov 23, 2011;6(11):e27711) and are associated with increased prostate cancer risk (Nutr Cancer, May 2011;63(4):525–37).

Foods possibly associated with increased prostate cancer risk include:

  • Egg yolks, a rich source of choline that can be converted by bacteria in your colon to TMAO that can increase risk for prostate and other cancers. In one study, men who ate 2.5 or more eggs per week were at increased risk for the aggressive form of prostate cancer, compared to those who ate less than half an egg per week (Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:855-863). However, other studies have shown no association between eggs and prostate cancer (Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 2012;13:4677–4681).
  • Milk, a rich source of galactose, a sugar that turns on your immune system to cause inflammation to increase cancer risk (J Nutr, 2013;143:189-196; Nutr Metab (Lond), 2012;9:74). One study associated milk with increased risk for death from prostate cancer (Prostate, 2010;70:1054-1065).
  • Poultry was not associated with risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer (Cancer Prev Res (Phila), 2011;4:2110–2121). However, eating a lot of poultry is associated with higher blood level of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1), which has been associated with increased risk for prostate cancer (Proc Nutr Soc, 2011:1-4).

Non-food risk factors for prostate cancer:

  • Lack of vitamin D is associated with increased risk for cancer in general (Mol Cell Endocrinol, 2011;347:61-69) and prostate cancer specifically (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2014;23:1447-1449). The current recommendation is to keep your blood level of hydroxy vitamin D above 20 ng/mL.
  • Being overweight is substantially associated with increased risk for developing localized and progressive prostate cancer (Ann Oncol, 2012 Jan 6;23(7):1665–71) and of dying from it if you already have it (Cancer Prev Res (Phila), 2011;4:486–501). Gaining weight after being diagnosed with prostate cancer is significantly associated with prostate cancer spread and death (Cancer Prev Res (Phila), 2011;4:544–551).
  • Lack of exercise: Many studies show that men who exercise are far less likely to develop prostate cancer and those who exercise vigorously are protected from that disease even more. Exercising after being diagnosed with prostate cancer is associated with reduced recurrence (Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev, 2015;24:57–64) and reduced death from prostate cancer (J Clin Oncol, 2011;29:726–732). Vigorous exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, increases muscle strength, reduces body fat and helps to improve mood in cancer survivors (Support Care Cancer, 2012;20:221–233).
  • Smoking increases risk of prostate cancer, aggressive prostate cancer (JAMA, 2011;305:2548–2555) and death from prostate cancer (Eur Urol, 2015;68:949–956).
  • Alcohol: Taking in more than two drinks per day is associated with increased prostate cancer risk (Br J Cancer, 2015 Feb 3; 112(3):580–593; Eur J Cancer Prev, Jul 2012;21(4):350–9).

Prostate Cancer Has the Same Risk Factors as Heart Attacks
You can help to prevent, and even treat, prostate cancer with the same lifestyle changes used to prevent and treat heart attacks. More and more studies are associating prostate cancer with the same risk factors as those for heart attacks: unhealthful diet, overweight, lack of exercise, lack of vitamin D, high blood sugar levels, smoking and excess alcohol intake. The same lifestyle changes that are associated with decreased risk for prostate cancer are also associated with increased survival and freedom from spread of the cancer if you already have it.

Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com

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