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dnaMD- What's Your Risk of Prostate Cancer?

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

For men in developing countries, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer. It’s one of the leading causes of cancer death in the world. While prostate cancer is rare in men under 40, the risk of developing the cancer rapidly increases after age 50.

While scientists cannot rule out all potential causes of prostate cancer, evidence has suggested there is a very high heritability rate. Some researchers speculate it could be as high as 40%.

Because of its high mortality rate and genetic propensity, it’s extremely important to know if you are genetically susceptible to prostate cancer so you can take steps to try to decrease your risk with possible molecular agents and routine checkups.

prostate cancer, elderly, men, prostate

Prostate Cancer 101:

Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland begin to divide and grow out of control. The prostate gland is found only in males and is responsible for the creation of the fluid in semen. In the male body, the prostate is below the bladder and in front of the rectum. As a man ages, the prostate will grow in size.

Prostate cancer is known to be asymptomatic in its early stages. However, in its more advanced form, it can cause symptoms such as:

  • Bloody urine

  • Weight loss

  • Erectile Dysfunction

  • Bloody semen

  • Bone pain

  • Decreased force in the urine stream

For most men with prostate cancer, the cells will grow slowly and stay confined to the prostate glands, where they will not cause much harm. However, others can develop into more aggressive forms of the cancer, which can spread to nearby organs, travel through the lymphatic system or bloodstream to bones and other organs. Once prostate cancer has spread throughout the body, it will be much harder to treat.

Who is at risk?

As state above, men over the age of 50 are the most likely to develop prostate cancer. One study recorded that 6 out of 10 prostate cancer cases are found in men above the age of 65.

Prostate cancer has also demonstrated stronger propensities among certain ethnic groups. African-American and Caribbean men are the most likely to develop the cancer. Interestingly, men of these ethnic groups tend to be diagnosed at a younger age. Asian, African, Central American, and South American men are less at risk.

There is also a very strong genetic link for prostate cancer. Your risk of prostate cancer is greatest if you have a brother or father who was diagnosed, especially if they were diagnosed at a young age. One study found that men with a brother diagnosed with prostate cancer were 2 times more likely to be diagnosed as well. The same study found that having both a brother and father who had prostate cancer were 3 times more likely to develop the cancer themselves. Having second and third-degree relatives also adds to your risk of prostate cancer.

There are many locations in the genome that contribute to the onset of cancer. Studies have found that there are more than 70 locations where an allele variant is correlated to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Unfortunately, research has not thoroughly studied all of them. In this review, we’ll be looking at just a few locations that are better understood.

CYP1B1 gene:

CYP1B1 is a gene that codes for a member of the cytochrome P450 family. It’s main function regulating oxidative stress by metabolizing harmful substances such as PAHs (pro-carcinogens) which come from air pollution and cigarette smoke. To remove PAHs from the body, they must first be broken down and thus transformed into carcinogens. CYP1B1 codes for an enzyme that performs this function.

Allele variants within the CYP1B1 gene will determine how effectively it transforms PAHs into carcinogens within the body. The risk variant for this gene contains an A allele. The presence of an A allele causes an over-expression of this gene, which spurs the PAH to carcinogen transformation and can cause the body to become overwhelmed with carcinogens. Too many carcinogens in the body can lead to cell DNA damage and cancers.

If you carry a risk variant, it has been shown that supplementing your diet with flavonoids can decrease CYP1B1 activity and may offer protection against the onset of prostate cancer along with other cancers. Such flavonoids include supplements such as resveratrol, pterostilbene, hesperidin (found in lemon and orange peel), and naringenin.

Preventing prostate cancer:

Beyond having your genomics sequenced, there are several other practices that will help decrease your risk of prostate and other kinds of cancer.

  • Eat a healthy diet- A diet full of variety and fresh, organic fruits and vegetables contain many different micronutrients that will contribute to your overall health. There have also been several studies that have found certain food products have been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer:

    • One study found that men who eat more fat in their diet have been found to be more likely to develop prostate cancer.

    • A second study demonstrated men who ate more dairy products have the highest risk of prostate cancer.

  • Maintain a healthy weight- Several studies have suggested that a body mass index, BMI, of 30 or over may have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

  • Exercise- Research has found that men who exercise may have a decreased likelihood of developing prostate cancer. Exercise will also help to reduce the risk of heart disease and other kinds of cancer. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day for optimal benefits.

Knowing your risk factors is vital to protect yourself against the onset of prostate cancer. If you are genetically more susceptible to developing the cancer, it's important to try to avoid exposure to carcinogens, take necessary supplements to maintain optimal nutrition, and schedule routine checkups and examinations as preventative measures.

For more information on genome sequencing and getting your genomics read by Dr. Johnson, click here to contact us!

The Johnson Center for Health services patients in-person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!


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