BALTIMORE, MARYLAND. Several cancers have been linked to inflammation or viral infection. Stomach cancer has been linked to an infection with Helicobacter pylori. Liver cancer is associated with hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), and cervical cancer with a human papilloma virus infection. Now researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggest that prostate cancer may also have its origin in inflammation or viral infection. It is quite clear that prostate cancer risk is related to diet with animal fats promoting it and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables preventing it. It is also clear that some anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin and COX-2 inhibitors help prevent prostate cancer, especially among older men. There is also substantial evidence that antioxidants like vitamin E (especially gamma- tocopherol) and selenium exert a strong protective effect against prostate cancer.
Furthermore, there is clear evidence that the inflammation associated with sexually transmitted infections is associated with increased prostate cancer risk. Close examination of prostate cells obtained from biopsies have shown a strong presence of inflamed cells close to cancer cells, and signs of prostatitis (prostate inflammation) are found in almost all older men in the developed world even though symptoms may be absent. Finally, it has recently been discovered that prostate cancer is associated with silencing of the gene responsible for the production of glutathione S-transferase, one of the body's most important antioxidants.
Putting all this information together, the Johns Hopkins researchers conclude that inflammation of the
prostate (prostatitis) may contribute to the development of prostate cancer.
Editor's comment: These findings clearly underscore the importance of ensuring an adequate intake of antioxidants, especially selenium and gamma-tocopherol, and natural anti-inflammatories such as beta-sitosterol. Sulphoraphanes (found in broccoli and cauliflower) and many other foods, especially green onions (scallions) and garlic, have also been found highly protective.