Scientists from the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at Jackson State University in Mississippi recently published a review article on the role of oxidative stress in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer.
The article, “Oxidative stress in prostate hyperplasia and carcinogenesis,” and published in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, is an in-depth and comprehensive account of recent studies on the role of oxidative stress on the initiation, promotion, and progression of BPH.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of free radicals as a result of energy metabolism and the neutralization of their harmful effects by antioxidants.
Risk factors linked with prostate cancer include increasing age, family history, genetics, race (African Americans have a higher risk), and dietary factors. These factors are all linked to oxidative stress through events such as aberrant cell signaling, DNA replication, cell cycle arrest, and programmed cell death.
Both endogenous and exogenous antioxidants present in cells neutralize the damaging effect of free radicals without becoming destabilized themselves, and contribute to the reduction of prostate cancer. For instance, it’s been suggested that vitamins C and E can help prevent prostate cancer by terminating oxidative chain reactions and preventing the generation of additional free radicals.
However, there is controversy about the role of vitamins in fighting prostate cancer. While some lab studies have shown a beneficial effect of vitamin C, this could not be demonstrated in studies of living subjects. Research has also shown that different forms of vitamin E can either have a beneficial or detrimental effect in the development of prostate cancer.
Finally, some studies have shown that vitamin D increases the risk of prostate cancer. So, although micronutrient supplements could restore the antioxidant status and therefore improve the clinical outcome for patients with BPH and prostate cancer, it should be approached with caution, according to the authors.
Similarly, a high fat diet has been identified as a risk factor for prostate cancer because it induces oxidative stress and inflammation in the prostate gland. Reduced fat intake has therefore been proposed to provide a level of protection against prostate cancer.
Interestingly, a molecule called alpha αATA that inhibits the proliferation of prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo has also been shown to induce oxidative stress. Although this finding seems to be counter-intuitive, according to the authors, it could be used to develop novel therapies for prostate cancer.
The authors conclude that many studies support the fact that oxidative stress plays a critical role in prostate cancer. They also suggest that oxidative mechanisms could be exploited to develop new therapies for prostate-related diseases, including prostate cancer.
The link between BPH and prostate cancer
Both BPH and prostate cancer have certain features in common: They are both hormone- and age-dependent and the risk of developing them increases with age. However, there is no evidence that BPH is a precursor or a risk factor for prostate cancer or that BPH can develop into prostate cancer.