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Cancer cells tend to favor the use of glucose to survive and multiply, and this is especially true in prostate cancer. One of the biggest differences between prostate cancer cells and normal prostate cells is how the cancer cells use sugars and fats to produce energy and rapidly grow.
South Australian researchers have been closely examining this process, and in doing so they’ve identified a new way prostate cancer cells harness glucose for growth — one that could lead to new treatments for the deadly disease…
The metabolic process that drives prostate cancer
This recent study used cutting-edge technologies to analyze the metabolism of prostate cancer cells and identified a weakness in prostate tumors that could be the key to destroying them.
The researchers zeroed in on a particular protein known as 6PGD that helps prostate cancer cells shift their metabolism to defend themselves against a hormonal therapy used to treat the disease. They found that switching on 6PGD enables the cells to use glucose to generate antioxidants and make the building blocks needed for them to grow.
“We think this is a significant finding because it potentially represents a new mechanism by which prostate cancer cells can become resistant to hormonal therapies, which are the standard-of-care treatment for men with advanced and metastatic disease,” says Luke Selth, an associate professor at Flinders University.
Professor Lisa Butler from the University of Adelaide, co-senior author of the study, says the results represent a step forward in understanding the unique metabolism of prostate tumors. According to the study results, inhibiting 6PGD could kill cancer cells in real tumors taken directly from cancer patients as well as those grown in lab dishes.
What’s more, these inhibitors were more effective when combined with hormonal prostate cancer therapy. Since these types of drugs often don’t cure cancer, researchers are keen to identify combination therapies that improve patient outcomes.
“Using the latest technologies, we generated an incredibly detailed view of how 6PGD influences prostate cancer metabolism,” Butler says. “Importantly, our work has pinpointed some clinical agents that may be able to shut down this pathway, so it is possible that our findings could eventually be used to develop a new targeted therapy for this common disease.”
Lowering your risks
When it comes to this particular cancer, there are some risk factors you can’t change: age, race/ethnicity, genetic background or family history. But you can reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and avoiding certain foods, particularly dairy, red and processed meats and any added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
High levels of calcium and protein have both been connected with prostate cancer, and since cancer cells feed on glucose, it’s a good idea to keep your sugar intake as low as possible. In fact, research has connected the keto diet, which is low on carbs and sugar with starving cancer cells.
There are several foods that help support good prostate health. For instance, try adding green tea and fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Green tea has antioxidants called catechins that help defend against a precancerous condition called prostate intraepithelial neoplasia. And studies have shown that men who eat omega-3-rich fish substantially lowered their risk of prostate cancer. Experts generally recommend men adopt a Mediterranean-style diet to keep their prostate healthy.
Also, make sure you’re getting enough of certain nutrients that can help protect against prostate cancer. Vitamins C, D and E all help protect against prostate enlargement and inflammation, both of which can be risk factors for prostate cancer.
As far as supplements go, saw palmetto can help manage the symptoms of enlarged prostate (BPH) and prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate. Taking saw palmetto with other herbal ingredients such as curcumin, quercetin and stinging nettle can enhance its effectiveness.
The pitfalls of prostate cancer screening
While it’s important to catch any cancer as early as possible, screening for prostate cancer can prove difficult. Neither the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test nor DRE (direct rectal exam) are 100% accurate, leading to false-positive results, which can result in unnecessary biopsy and a lot of anxiety and confusion — or worse, a false negative, which can allow cancer to grow and spread.
However, these screenings are still important tools. While the general guidelines recommend starting at age 55, Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests you may need PSA screening between the ages of 40 and 54 if you have family who’ve had this cancer, especially a father or brother, or if you’re African-American — due to a higher risk for more aggressive cancer.
Screening may hold the most benefit for men between the ages of 55 and 65, when men are most likely to get prostate cancer and treatment makes the most sense — meaning when treatment benefits outweigh the potential risk of treatment side effects.
Your doctor can help you decided when and how often you should be screened.
Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!
Targeting prostate cancer metabolism — Flinders University
Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer — American Cancer Society
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors — American Cancer Society
Can Prostate Cancer Be Found Early? — American Cancer Society
Prostate Cancer: Age-Specific Screening Guidelines — Johns Hopkins Medicine