Mitch Kahn — Prostate Cancer Survivor & Heart Disease Warrior

As a Personal Trainer and Whole-Food Plant-Based Lifestyle Advocate, I am dedicated to helping my clients lead vibrant, resilient and active lives as they age through a combination of plant-based eating and exercise.

But it wasn’t always like that for me.

Growing up, my family ate meat with dinner every night. While my mom was healthy and lived to the age of 97, my dad died at the age of 79. He was morbidly obese, took insulin for type II diabetes and had numerous heart attacks and bypass surgeries. In his later years, he suffered from severe neuropathy to the point that it was hard for him to stand. He eventually died from a stroke.

I was headed down the same path as my dad.

But then something clicked inside me.

In 2008, at the age of 55, after years of neglecting my health due to focusing on my corporate career, I became seriously interested in my health, fitness and wellness.

Although it had taken me some time, I finally got it through my thick skull that I was headed down the same path as my dad. I was at risk for Type 2 diabetes as well as other major health risks. I was obese at 265 pounds; my triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were way too high; and I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath.

I decided to take control of my health by changing my lifestyle. I dived into learning everything I could about exercise and nutrition, to the point of obsession. I even obtained certification as a Master Fitness Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist and Nutritionist with an expertise in plant-based eating.

I started eating “healthy” and exercising. Over time, these lifestyle and habit changes enabled me to lose 60 pounds and get down to a weight of 205 pounds, while also achieving a healthy blood profile.

That was the start of my journey from being an omnivore, to transitioning first to being a pescatarian, to finally fully transitioning to a whole-food plant-based no-oil lifestyle in 2015.

In 2015, I was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer.

I was determined to beat it.

I researched, read and spoke with people who were plant-based and learned that adopting a WFPB eating pattern would be the best defence in this fight.

Literally switching overnight, I have seen my PSA levels remain steady for the last 5 years.

As such, I’ve been able to remain under active surveillance and avoid any of the other more radical prostate cancer treatments. In fact, the results of my most recent biopsy indicated that my Gleason Score had decreased from a 7 to a 6.

As an added bonus, through the adoption of my WFPB lifestyle, I’ve actually reduced my weight even more. I currently weigh in at 190 pounds.

In 2019, my primary physician suggested I go for a Coronary Artery Calcium Scan, a predictor of the risk of future heart attacks. As it turned out, because of my eating the standard Western diet for so many years, my Coronary Artery Calcium Score came back at 1492. The goal is to be 0. Obviously mine was off the chart.

Luckily we have one cardiologist in the Nashville, TN area who is plant-based. I got an appointment scheduled with him and he suggested I take a stress test.

I passed the stress test with “flying colours”. In fact, because I am in such great shape due to my exercise routine (I lift weights and compete in track and field events in the Senior Olympics) and plant-based lifestyle, I spent a long time on the treadmill trying to get my heart rate to 85% of my Max Heart Rate. Then they rushed me off the treadmill so they could take a scan of my heart. They rushed me because my heart rate was recovering to a resting rate so fast.

My cardiologist’s comment to me was he hoped he scored as well on his stress test when he was my age.

I am now 67 years old and am taking aspirin and atorvastatin, because of the Coronary Artery Calcium Score. Recent blood tests have shown a total cholesterol of 109mg/dl (2.8mmol/l); LDL 62mg/dl (1.6mmol/l); triglycerides 73mg/dl (0.8mmol/l). My blood pressure is around 112/68mmHg.

Prior to my diet overhaul, I was a big meat and egg eater, drank a ton of milk and had a fondness for fast food, including pizza, hot dogs, Chinese and fried chicken. Now my meals revolve around beans, greens, tofu, veggies, fruit and whole grains. Totally WFPB plus no oil.

I now weight lift 3 times per week, walk at least 30 minutes every day and also do jog/sprint work when prepping for the track & field events I compete in for the Senior Olympics.

I’m a big believer in the evidence-based research of Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn — all advocates for eating a WFPB diet. It is my passion to get as many of my clients as possible to transition to that lifestyle as well.

Mitch Kahn Feb 2021

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