Androgens are considered a major factor in the development of prostate cancer. The January 15, 1997, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) contains an article demonstrating that testosterone is primarily responsible for causing cell division in the prostate and that androgens are required for prostate cancer growth.1 An article in the January 1, 1997, issue of the JNCI contains an article demonstrating that androgens are capable of increasing oxidative stress in androgen-receptive carcinoma cells. The importance of androgens in the development of prostate cancer is suggested by observations that prostate cancer rarely occurs in eunuchs or men with a deficiency in the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to its more active form. Some studies suggest a link between oxidative stress and tumor development in various tissues. Reactive oxygen species (prooxidants), such as superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals, are capable of damaging DNA and cellular members.2 That lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes and certain tomato products,3 was shown in a study to cause a statistically significant decrease in the risk of developing prostate cancer, strengthens this connection.4 The authors conclude that androgens can shift the prooxidant-antioxidant balance in androgen-responsive cells;5 however, an understanding of exactly how this happens is required.
In a December 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), an article shows that men who took selenium over a 9-year period had a significant reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer as well as of lung and colorectal cancers.6
Selenium is a mineral and a major component of the enzyme called glutathione, which is considered one of the most potent antioxidants in existence and one of the most powerful members of the cancer detoxification system. Methionine, through its production of cysteine, makes possible the synthesis of glutathione in the body's cells. Selenomethionine therefore protects the prostate against cancer by neutralizing or destroying the toxic, cancer-causing free radicals produced in the cells by androgens and other factors.
Other major factors that stimulate prostate cells to produce an excess of oxygen free radicals, which increase a man's risk of developing prostate cancer, include the following:
- Obesity and ischemia
- Over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs
- Smoking and alcohol
- Dietary deficiencies
- Insulin-like growth factor (ILGF).
Obesity and Ischemia
Overeating, regardless of whether carbohydrates, fats, or proteins, leads to obesity. Excess fat cells impair bloodflow (a process called ischemia) to prostate cells, which prevents the latter from synthesizing a chemical called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is a compound that can be considered the energy currency of the cell, particularly of muscle cells.7 This deficiency sets in motion a series of chemical reactions in these cells, causing them to produce an excess of cancer-causing free radicals. Constipation can also cause ischemia. The presence of large feces combined with delayed elimination can reduce bloodflow to the prostate. After elimination, the ischemia is broken, resulting in a rush of bloodflow to the prostate. Repetition of this process of occlusion and reperfusion of blood results in a buildup of the cancer-causing free radicals, thus increasing the risk of prostate cancer.
Over-the-Counter, Prescription, and Illegal Drugs
The daily abuse of drugs depletes the body's stores of glucuronic acid. In the animal body, glucuronic acid is often attaches itself to poisonous substances to allow for their subsequent elimination and to hormones to allow for easier transport. The process is known as glucuronidation and the resulting substances are known as glucuronides (or glucuronosides).8 The cancer detoxification system uses glucuronic acid to regulate blood levels of testosterone and to eliminate cancer-causing chemicals from the body. A phytochemical found in fruits and vegetables called calcium d-glucarate enhances the process of glucuronidation. This helps to prevent prostate cancer. We recommend every man over the age of 35 take supplements of calcium d-glucarate daily as a preventive to prostate cancer.
Smoking and Alcohol
Chemicals in cigarette smoke can produce ischemia in the prostate, thereby increasing one's risk of developing prostate cancer by increasing the production of free radicals in these cells. Alcohol abuse can impair the liver's production of glucuronic acid, also increasing the risk of prostate cancer.
A diet lacking the necesary cancer-fighting chemicals, such as selenium as mentioned earlier on this page, and containing cancer-causing ones weakens the cancer detoxification system. This increases the risk of prostate cancer. A healthy cancer detoxification system is the key to the prevention of prostate cancer.
Insulin-Like Growth Factor (ILGF)
Most current studies now show blood levels of the insulin-like growth factors (ILGF) to be a more accurate marker for determining the presence of prostate cancer than prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. We recommend that every man begin to test his blood levels of ILGF at the age of 35. He should then follow up with a test every 3 to 5 years, depending upon his test results. We also caution men not to take a nutritional supplement called dehydroepiandosterone (DHEA) or growth hormones without first having his blood levels of these compounds tested.
Following the A.P. John Cancer Protocol guidelines on dietary and nutritional supplements will help maintain a healthy and effective cancer detoxification system. Keep in mind that life-style abuses can overload this system and increase the risk of cancer in any part of the body, including the prostate.
- S.A. Ingles, R.K. Ross, M.C. Yu, R.A. Irvine, G. La Pera. R.W. Haile, and G.A. Coetzee, "Association of Prostate Cancer Risk with Genetic Polymorphisms in Vitamin D Receptor and Androgen Receptor," Journal of the National Cancer Institute 89 (1997): 166–70.
- M.O. Ripple, W.F. Henry, R.P. Rago, and G. Wilding, "Prooxidant-Antioxidant Shift Induced by Androgen Treatment of Human Prostate Carcinoma Cells," JNCI 89 (1997): 40–48.
- Cooked tomatoes and tomato products contain more lycopene than raw tomatoes do. See ShareCare - What are good sources of lycopene? (accessed November 14, 2011), and see Dr Oz article "The Anti-Ovarian Cancer Diet", Protective Prescription (accessed November 14, 2011) for information on how to cook tomatoes so that they release the maximum amount of lycopene.
- Ripple et al., op. cit., 40–48.
- They state earlier in the article that at least 75 percent of tumors in men with metastatic prostate cancer are androgen dependent at initial diagnosis, so the detail of androgen dependence is an important one.
- L.C. Clark, G. F. Combs, Jr., B.W. Turnbull, E.H. Slate, D.K. Chalker, J. Chow, L.S. Davis, R.A. Glover, G.F. Graham, E.G. Gross, A. Krongrad, J.L. Lesher, Jr., H.K. Park, B.B. Sanders, Jr., C.L. Smith, and J. R. Taylor, "Effects of Selenium Supplementation for Cancer Prevention in Patients with Carcinoma of the Skin," JAMA 276 (1996): 1957–63.
- Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 7th Edition, s.v. "adenosine triphospate."
- From Human Metabolome Database, version 2.5, Genome Alberta/Genome Canada. Accessed Oct. 18, 2011.
Updated information on the topic of prostate cancer will be forthcoming.