Fred Hutch experts are identifying key factors that affect a person's prostate cancer risk:
Genetic mutation – A team of researchers led by Janet Stanford, Ph.D., of Fred Hutch has discovered that mutations in the gene BTNL2, which encodes a protein involved in regulating T-cell proliferation and cytokine production – both of which impact immune function – increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. Learn more >
Circumcision – Dr. Jonathan Wright and colleagues have determined that circumcision before a male’s first sexual intercourse is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer, which may be related to the procedures ability to hinder infection and inflammation that may lead to prostate cancer. The study, which included Drs. Daniel Lin and Janet Stanford, included 3,399 men and determined that circumcised men were 15 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than uncircumcised men. The reduced relative risk applied for both less and more aggressive forms of the cancer. Learn more >
Deep-fried foods increase risk – Regular consumption of deep-fried foods such as French fries, fried chicken, fried fish and doughnuts is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, and the effect appears to be slightly stronger with regard to more aggressive forms of the disease. The findings were published in 2013 by Drs. Stanford, Marian Neuhouser and collaborators. Learn more >
Diet – Separate studies led by Drs. Alan Kristal and Ulrike Peters have found a connection between greater consumption of dark green and cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli and cauliflower, and decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. That research also shows that eating more tomatoes and fruit does not help prevent prostate cancer. Drs. Lin, Neuhouser and Kristal are also examining how a biologically active compound in broccoli called sulforaphane affects mechanisms in prostate tissue that are related to cancer development. Learn more >
Estrogen pathway genes – Variations in estrogen-related genes may contribute to prostate cancer risk, according to a population-based case-control study conducted by Hutchinson Center investigators and colleagues. Study authors include Drs. Stanford, Ziding Feng and collaborators. Additional research may assess genetic variants in genes that are part of this pathway in specific subsets of patients with particular environmental exposures or genetic backgrounds.
Family history – The Prostate Cancer Genetic Research Study (PROGRESS) is a nationwide research project exploring why some families have several men, often in multiple generations, who develop prostate cancer. Discovering the inherited genetic mutations for prostate cancer in families and how they work will hopefully provide new clues to help diagnose, treat, cure and even prevent prostate cancer in future generations. A whole-exome sequencing project in multiple members of selected hereditary prostate cancer (HPC) families recently revealed two genetic mutations that may contribute to risk of HPC. Current research efforts focus on validation of these findings. In addition, Center investigators are collaborating with multiple groups in the discovery and validation of genetic markers called SNPs that are associated with risk of developing prostate cancer in both HPC families and among men without a strong family history. For example, Dr. Stanford contributes to the African American Genome-wide Association Study and the international PRACTICAL Study that recently validated 23 SNPs that are associated with risk of developing prostate cancer.
HOXB13 genetic mutation – An association of a rare HOXB13 gene mutation with prostate cancer risk in the general population suggests that the mutation may be associated with features of more aggressive disease, according to a study co-authored by Drs. Stanford, Elaine Ostrander, Marni Stott-Miller and collaborators.
Medication – Fred Hutch’s Program in Prostate Cancer Research studies several types of commonly used medications to determine if they affect prostate cancer risk or outcomes. These medications include:
- Aspirin and NSAIDs – A population-based, case-control study led by Drs. Stanford, Ziding Feng, Peter Nelson and Ulrike Peters that was published in 2010 observed a 21 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk among regular aspirin users. Inflammation may play in the development of prostate cancer, so the use of aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is a growing focus for scientists and requires additional research.
- Statins and increased risk – An initial study published in 2008 and led by Dr. Stanford showed that obese men who take statins to control their cholesterol, particularly for extended durations, have an increased risk of prostate cancer. The study found non-obese men do not have the same risk. The study’s findings warrant further investigation, particularly since some studies have suggested that statins may be associated with reducing cancer risk.
- Statin and decreased mortality risk – Statins taken to lower blood cholesterol levels – taken before and at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis are associated with a decrease in risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality, according to a Hutchinson Center study conducted by Drs. Stanford, Feng and collaborators. The study also observed that statins taken before or at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis were unrelated to prostate cancer recurrence or progression. Learn more >
- Finasteride – Dr. Mary Redmand and colleagues associated with the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial determined that finasteride (Proscar), a common therapy for the treatment of an enlarged prostate or BPH, helped reduce the incidence of prostate cancer by about 25 percent. Additionally, researchers found that participants who took finasteride and did develop high-grade cancer had their tumors detected earlier and at a less extensive stage.
- Metformin – Men taking the diabetes drug metformin had significantly lower risk of a prostate cancer diagnosis, according to a population-based case-control study by Drs. Stanford and Jonathan Wright. Dr. Wright is now studying metformin as a cancer therapy as well as the drug’s effect at the tissue level.
Obesity – Obese men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer have more than two-and-a-half times the risk of dying from the disease as compared to men of normal weight. An earlier study found that obese men have an 80 percent higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. Learn more >
Smoking – Middle-aged men who are long-term, heavy smokers face twice the risk of developing aggressive forms of prostate cancer than men who have never smoked, according to a study by Drs. Stanford, Thomas Vaughan and colleagues. Learn more >
Smokers, dairy and fatty foods – Research led by Dr. Neuhouser has found that current or former heavy smokers who ate more dairy foods had a 41 percent reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer, compared to men in that category with lower dairy intake. On the other hand, smokers who followed diets rich in omega-6 fatty acids — found in large quantities in safflower, soybean and corn oils — faced a more than doubled risk of prostate cancer, but only if they had a family history of prostate cancer. Learn more >
Coffee – Stanford and colleagues found that men who drank four or more cups of coffee per day experienced a 59 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer recurrence and/or progression as compared to those who drank only one or fewer cups per week. Learn more >
Tea and risk reduction – Consuming 2 or more cups of tea daily reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer, which is the most common form of cancer among men, according to findings from a study conducted by Drs. Stanford, Neuhouser and colleagues. The study, published in 2013, joins a growing body of research linking tea consumption to reduced prostate cancer risk.
Red wine – Men who drank four or more 4-ounce glasses of red wine per week experienced about a 60 percent lower incidence of the more aggressive types of prostate cancer. Learn more >