Unhealthy gut linked to aggressive prostate cancer

In a new study from Cleveland Clinic, researchers found that diet-associated molecules in the gut are associated with aggressive prostate cancer, suggesting dietary interventions may help reduce risk.

The findings from the team’s analysis of nearly 700 patients may have clinical implications for diagnosing and preventing lethal prostate cancer.

In this study, the team analyzed data from patients previously enrolled in the National Cancer Institute’s Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.

They studied baseline levels of certain dietary nutrients and metabolites (byproducts produced when a substance is broken down in the gut) found in patients’ blood serum prior to prostate cancer diagnosis.

They compared blood levels between healthy patients and those who later received a prostate cancer diagnosis and died from the disease.

The researchers found that men with elevated levels of a metabolite called phenylacetylglutamine (PAGln) were approximately two or three times more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.

This metabolite is produced when microbes in the gut break down phenylalanine, an amino acid found in many plants- and animal-based protein sources like meat, beans, and soy.

The researchers also discovered that elevated levels of two nutrients abundant in animal products, including red meat, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products, called choline and betaine, also were linked with increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer.

While these nutrients and gut metabolites have been studied previously in heart disease and stroke, this is the first time that gut microbiome metabolites have been studied clinically in relation to prostate cancer outcomes.

Last year, the team found PAGln’s association with increased cardiovascular disease risk. They found that PAGln binds to the same receptors as beta-blockers, which are drugs commonly prescribed to help lower blood pressure.

This suggests that part of beta blockers’ potent efficacy may be due to blocking the metabolite’s activity.

New insights are emerging from large-scale clinical datasets that show the use of beta-blockers is also associated with lower mortality due to prostate cancer.

The research team also will continue to explore the reliability of using choline, betaine and PAGln as biomarkers of aggressive prostate cancer and how dietary interventions can be used to modulate their levels and reduce patients’ subsequent disease risk.

If you care about prostate cancer, please read studies about this daily beverage may lower prostate cancer risk and findings of new prostate cancer test could avoid unnecessary biopsies.

For more information about prostate cancer and your health, please see recent studies about this prostate disease drug may help lower risk of Parkinson’s disease and results showing that this healthy diet may reduce prostate cancer development.

The study is published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. One author of the study is Nima Sharifi, M.D.

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