Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Ornish Program and Dean Ornish

  • Manjunath HarlapurEmail author
  • Daichi Shimbo
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_1259-2



Dr. Dean Ornish is currently the president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California and clinical professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco.


Dr. Ornish is the founder and president of Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, and on faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, as a clinical professor of medicine. Dr. Ornish received a medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine and underwent internal medicine training at Massachusetts General Hospital. His major contribution to medicine is his examination of the lifestyle modification/stress reduction approach to cardiovascular prevention and also cancer. He has published several seminal studies in this area. A few of these studies are described here.

In 1990, Ornish and colleagues published results (Ornish et al. 1990) from a landmark but small randomized trial (The Lifestyle Heart Trial) showing that intensive lifestyle changes for 1 year (10% fat vegetarian diet, exercise, stress management, and smoking cessation) was associated with regression in coronary artery disease on angiogram in cardiac patients (N = 28), whereas usual care was associated with coronary artery disease progression (n = 20). None of the patients were taking lipid-lowering medications.

In 1998, Ornish and colleagues published results of a longer follow-up period (i.e., 5 years) of the Lifestyle Heart Trial (Ornish et al. 1998). The study results were similar to the 1-year results. Patients with coronary disease assigned intensive lifestyle changes had regression in coronary artery disease on angiogram at 5-year follow-up, whereas a group that received usual care had coronary artery disease progression. The group assigned to the intensive lifestyle changes also had a lower cardiac event rate during the 5-year follow-up.

In 2005, Ornish et al. (2005) demonstrated that in comparison to usual care group, comprehensive lifestyle changes for 1 year reduced the progression of early, low-grade prostate cancer in 93 men who had not chosen to undergo any conventional cancer treatment.

More recently, in 2008, Ornish et al. (2008) showed that comprehensive lifestyle changes for 3 months increased peripheral blood mononuclear cell telomerase activity (an enzyme that inhibits cellular aging) in 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer. This study was not randomized and did not have a control group.


References and Further Reading

  1. Ornish, D., Brown, S. E., Scherwitz, L. W., Billings, J. H., Armstrong, W. T., Ports, T. A., et al. (1990). Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary atherosclerosis? The lifestyle heart trial. The Lancet, 336, 129–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ornish, D., Scherwitz, L., Billings, J., Brown, S. E., Gould, K. L., Merritt, T. A., et al. (1998). Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease five-year follow-up of the lifestyle heart trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 280, 2001–2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ornish, D., Weidner, G., Fair, W. R., Marlin, R., Pettengill, E. B., Raisin, C. J., et al. (2005). Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. Journal of Urology, 174(3), 1065–1070. http://www.pmri.org/CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ornish, D., Lin, J., Daubenmier, J., Weidner, G., Epel, E., Kemp, C., et al. (2008). Increased telomerase activity and comprehensive lifestyle changes: A pilot study. The Lancet Oncology, 9(11), 1048–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center of Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, Division of General MedicineColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Linda C. Baumann
    • 1
  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA