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New test predicts risk of prostate cancer

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON. Researchers at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute and Baylor College of Medicine report the development of a promising new method for determining prostate cancer risk and the risk of metastasis. The researchers compared the DNA spectra (Fourier transform-IR spectra) of prostate tissue taken from younger men (aged 16 to 36 years) and older men (aged 55 to 80 years) as well as prostate tissue spectra from older men with prostate cancer and older men without prostate cancer. They found that there was a highly significant increase in DNA damage (8-hydroxypurine lesions) with advancing age. This damage could be estimated by measuring the concentration of 8-hydroxyguanine in prostate tissue from young and older men. It is known that 8-hydroxyguanine is formed when DNA is attacked by free radicals, specifically hydroxyl radicals.

The researchers also found that they could easily distinguish DNA spectra from older men without prostate cancer from those of older men with prostate cancer. They speculate that the new test may be able to predict the risk of a man developing prostate cancer by determining the extent of free radical damage at any particular point in time. Perhaps the most exciting discovery was the ability of DNA spectra analysis to determine whether the cancer had metastasized well before any damage to other organs actually had occurred.

The researchers conclude that prostate cancer is largely caused by free radical attacks on both the base and backbone structure of DNA. They suggest that an increase in the intake of such dietary antioxidants as vitamin E, lycopene and polyphenols may inhibit the development of prostate cancer.
Malins, Donald C., et al. Cancer-related changes in prostate DNA as men age and early identification of metastasis in primary prostate tumors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 100, No. 9, April 29, 2003, pp. 5401-06

Editor's comment: Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is also an effective scavenger of hydroxyl radicals and helps prevent the formation of 8-hydroxyguanine.

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