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Causes, Diet: Diet and cancer

Description:
In this section learn how diet can contribute and or be linked to the development of prostate cancer.
Transcript:
Diet and cancer Diet – specifically a “Western” diet high in red meat – is one lifestyle condition that has been linked to the development of prostate cancer. Click the forward arrow or the numbers below to find out more about diet and prostate cancer. William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D. is a researcher at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. HIs research focuses on the molecular causes involved in the development of prostate cancer. This has led to the discoveries that inflammation, diet, and gene "silencing" have roles in prostate cancer development. “Well there's one piece of what's called ecological epidemiology evidence that's very strong and dominates many of our thinking, much of our thinking about prostate cancer. And that's a man born in rural Asia, who lives his life in rural Asia, is very unlikely to develop prostate cancer and very unlikely to die from the disease. Now granted they don't screen for prostate cancer there, but mortality rates are reasonably solid that they're very unlikely to die from prostate cancer. And yet when Asian men immigrate to the Western world – so there's been a nice study done where they immigrate to North America – they begin to adopt a risk of prostate cancer that is more consistent with Caucasians and other residents of North America than the area which they left. And they adopt it quickly. If they were here ten years or less, the risk is like they never left Asia, if they're here 25 years or more their prostate cancer mortality risk is about half that of Caucasians. Ethnic Asian men born in this country have a risk that is very close to that of Caucasians. This very strongly suggests that there is something in the environment that is driving the epidemic of prostate cancer in the Western world.” “There's something about diets of folks who get prostate cancer that are a little different from the diets of folks that don't. And it is in every way, a bad diet if you will, a stereotypical Western diet – too much dietary fat, particularly too much animal fat, probably even too much animal fat from red meat and not enough fruits and vegetables, antioxidants, micro-nutrients, and the like. People eat a pound, a pound and a half, two pounds of food a day. And it is one of the most complicated chemical mixtures that you can even ponder. There's all kinds of things in food. There are things that we know of in food related to the way food is processed which can clearly cause cancers. One we worked on a little bit is a compound that appears in meats – chicken, steak, hamburgers and cheeseburgers and whatnot. Depending on how it's prepared or how it's cooked. If they're grilled or cooked to a very high temperature, there's a reaction between high- energy phosphate- containing energy molecules in flesh foods like phosphocreatine and amino acids like phenylalanine and others. Just the heat will drive this reaction to create a variety of carcinogens that are called heterocyclic amines. Red meats can form another set of carcinogens as well. If you watch a hamburger on the grill, you'll notice that the fat tends to melt when you grill it and as it melts, it drips out and becomes charred and you make these polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon type compounds. You could say, wait a minute, heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, what are these things? Well you make the same things when you light a tobacco leaf on fire. In one case, you smoke them, which we know is not good for you. In the other case, we ingest them, which we suspect is not good for you.” “The prostate is actually a male sex accessory gland that surrounds the urethra, the urine tube, as it comes out of the bladder in men, before the urethra goes into the penis. Its function, it contributes about a third of the secretions to the ejaculate for sexual reproduction. Today the dawn of the new millennium, we still do not know exactly what these secretions are needed for. The sperm are capable of fertilization in the absence of the prostate secretions. Removal of the prostate gland creates other difficulties with sexual reproduction but not related to what the sperm need to do.”
Keywords:
diets, epidemic, red meat, prostate cancer mortality, cancer diet, cancer development, mortality rates, western diet
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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