Institute for Prostate Cancer Research

Understanding Risk Factors

Institute for Prostate Cancer Research
Risk Factors


Lifestyle — diet, alcohol consumption and smoking

  • IPCR research has shown that obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer have more than two-and-a-half times the risk of dying from the disease compared to men of normal weight at the time of diagnosis. Obese men also have a higher risk of developing high-grade, aggressive prostate cancer.
  • IPCR has shown that middle-aged men who are long-term, heavy smokers face twice the risk of developing more aggressive forms of prostate cancer than men who have never smoked.
  • IPCR has shown a connection between greater consumption of dark green and cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli and cauliflower, and decreased risk of prostate cancer.
  • IPCR studies have shown that four or more, four-ounce glasses of red wine per week yield about a 60 percent lower incidence of the more aggressive types of prostate cancer.

Decoding prostate cancer’s biology for prevention

  • IPCR leads an international research team that studies approaches to prostate-cancer prevention by analyzing blood, DNA, prostate biopsy tissue and surgery tissue taken from almost 19,000 study participants.
  • Researchers with the IPCR have developed the UW-OncoPlex™, a diagnostic test focusing on 200 gene mutations. The UW-OncoPlex™ technology is the first nationally to detect treatable gene copy changes for active treatment interventions. This test panel is currently being used for a variety of cancers, but researchers with the IPCR have developed 8 precision genome targets unique to prostate cancer.
  • In addition, IPCR researchers played a major role in The Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. This large national trial tested whether the drug Finasteride would reduce the prevalence of prostate cancer. The study found that the drug cut the chance of developing prostate cancer by almost 25 percent. This drug and others like it can now be used in some men to reduce their chances of getting prostate cancer.

Race and heredity

  • IPCR is conducting a nationwide research project called the Prostate Cancer Genetic Research Study (PROGRESS) to understand why some families have several members with prostate cancer. Finding the hereditary genes of prostate cancer is now an international effort in which the IPCR team is a major player.
  • Another effort is to find out and understand why African-American men have a 60 percent higher incidence of prostate cancer than Caucasian-Americans. Indeed IPCR has documented that the frequency of prostate-cancer testing is associated with a patient’s race. Researchers found that African-American men with prostate cancer are half as likely as Caucasian-American men to receive annual PSA tests.

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