The news report: Thursday, April 9, 2009

Today’s news reports address:

  • The association between metabolic syndrome and prostate cancer
  • The association between health habits (smoking, drinking, and exercise) and prostate cancer risk
  • The use of MRI to project risk of disease recurrence post-surgery
  • Another possible long-term drug development lead

Martin et al. have investigated the associations between specific elements of the metabolic syndrome development of prostate cancer in  29,364 Norwegian men followed for prostate cancer incidence and mortality from 1995-1997 to the end of 2005 in the second Nord Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT 2). In this study, 687 incident prostate cancers were diagnosed, and 110 men died from prostate cancer, with a mean follow-up of 9.3 years. There was little evidence that baseline body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, total or HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, presence of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, antihypertensive use, or cardiovascular disease were associated with incident or fatal prostate cancer. There was weak evidence that elevated blood pressure was associated with an increased risk. The authors conclude that they “found little evidence to support the hypothesis that the metabolic syndrome or its components explains higher prostate cancer mortality rates in countries with a ‘western’ diet and lifestyle.” They suggest that the association between blood pressure and prostate cancer warrants further investigation.

Shiels et al. have  evaluated the associations between smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity and sex steroid hormone concentrations among 1,275 men ≥ 20 years old who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Current smokers had higher total testosterone , free testosterone, total estradiol, and free estradiol  compared with former and never smokers. Men who consumed ≥ 1 drink a day had lower sex hormone-binding globulin(SHBG) than men who drank less frequently; total and free testosterone increased with number of drinks per day. Physical activity was positively associated with total and free testosterone. The authors conclude that smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity were associated with hormone and SHBG levels, and that these factors should be considered as possible confounders or upstream variables in studies of hormones and men’s health, including prostate cancer.

Fuchsjäger et al. have investigated whether magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings, when converted into a scoring system, can predict the biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer after radical prostatectomy (RP) based on data from 610 patients with biopsy-confirmed prostate cancer who had MRI before RP, as well as whole-mount step-sectioning of the pathology sample. As of August 2007, 64/610 patients had a biochemical recurrence. The MRI scoring system devised was a strong predictor of biochemical recurrence after RP. However, MRI did not provide added prognostic value to standard clinical nomograms. Despite this, the authors suggest that, in centers where MRI is already used routinely, it might increase the confidence of the clinician in assessing the risk of recurrence by contributing supporting data.

Kim et al. have published data suggesting that certain types of prostate cancer cell are susceptible to arginine deprivation by the enzyme arginine deiminase (ADI), and that single amino acid deprivation by ADI is able to trigger autophagy — the process of cellular self-digestion. Inhibition of autophagy can enhance and accelerate ADI-induced cell death. This finding may be relevant to the development of adjuvant forms of treatment that can improve responses to chemotherapy in patients with advanced prostate cancer.

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