Gene Variation Raises Prostate Cancer Risk -Study

Gene Variation Raises Prostate Cancer Risk -Study
Wed Oct 15,12:52 PM ET Add Health - Reuters to My Yahoo!

LONDON (Reuters) - Some men are more likely to get prostate cancer (news - web sites) because they have a particular genetic variation that makes them more susceptible to environmental or hormonal factors that can cause the disease, scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers in the United States have discovered that men who develop the disease, which is one of the most common male cancers, have particular variations in a gene called CYP1B1.

Mutations in the gene have already been implicated in smoking-related bowel, breast, ovarian and head-and-neck cancers. Scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina believe it is also linked to prostate cancer and may provide new insights into what causes the disease and how to prevent it.

“Previous research suggests prostate cancer arises in certain individuals due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Our study suggests that the genetic make-up of some men leaves them more susceptible to potential carcinogens in the environment or hormones in the body that could trigger the disease,” said Dr. Jianfeng Xu, who headed the research team.

Genetic and environmental factors are thought to cause cancer. A genetic mutation makes a person more susceptible to the disease, which can be triggered by an environmental cause such as toxic chemicals.

Scientists suspect CYP1B1 can prevent as well as cause cancer. The gene helps the body rid itself of harmful chemicals that can trigger the disease. But prostate cancer is a hormonal disease and the gene may also activate the male hormone testosterone.

Xu and his colleagues and researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who collaborated on the study suspect that variations in the gene determine whether it will work to prevent prostate cancer or to activate it.

“This study suggests men with a particular gene variant have an increased risk of prostate cancer. It’s an exciting finding because we know the gene interacts with certain cancer-causing chemicals — studying this more closely will bring us closer to finding out what factors in the environment or within the body may trigger the disease,” Xu added.

The scientists pinpointed the variations in the gene by studying more than 400 prostate cancer patients and 220 healthy men. Their findings are reported in the British Journal of Cancer. More than half of the cancer patients had a family history of the disease.

After looking at 13 variations in CYP1B1, they discovered that one cluster of variations was more common in the men who had a family history of the disease and another was more prominent in the healthy men.

Prostate cancer is among the six top cancer killers worldwide and the incidence of the illness is rising in many countries.

Most cases are diagnosed in men 50 years and older. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve survival. Difficulty and pain urinating, blood in the urine and pain in the back and hips are possible signs of the disease.

Men with a family history of the disease have a greater risk of suffering from prostate cancer. A high fat diet may also increase of odds of developing the disease.

SOURCE: British Journal of Cancer, October 20, 2003.

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