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How High-Fat Diet Causes Prostate Cancer to Metastasize

By jeremyc | January 16, 2018

High-fat Western diet has been labeled as unhealthy by experts for long. Now a new study shows that such a diet is the chief environmental factor behind metastasis of prostate cancer.

The researchers decided to evaluate the link between dietary lipid and cancer of the prostate because, according to them, while it is widely-believed that a high-fat Western diet contributes to progression of prostate cancer, there’s not much factual evidence.

With that said, previous studies have linked Western diet and colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. As a matter of fact, in one previous study, the researchers noted a 2.5 times higher risk of death from prostate cancer in men who follow a Western diet compared to those who don’t.

Previous research has also shown that a particular gene PTEN is not present when cancer spreads. PTEN is a tumor-repressing gene. However, studies have also shown that absence of PTEN alone is not sufficient for causing cancer to spread.

Therefore, this team of researchers checked if another gene was not working hand in hand with PTEN to trigger metastasis. The researchers found that another gene was indeed involved. This gene is PML, which also suppresses tumor.

This gene was absent in metastasizing tumors in mice but was present in tumors which didn’t metastasize. Further, it was noted that nearly one-fifth of tumors which metastasized didn’t have both PML and PTEN.

More importantly, it was found that cells of metastasizing tumors produced many times more fat than normal cells.

To check if blocking abnormally high fat production could prevent metastasis, the researchers gave fatostatin, a drug used for treating obestity, to mice which were given a vegetable-rich diet that was low in fat.

The researchers noted that fatostatin inhibited fat production and prevented metastasis.

However, when mice were given high amounts of fat, similar to what is found in a Western diet, the tumors metastasized. This mean a diet rich in fat heavily contributes to spreading of prostate cancer.

Thanks to these findings, new therapies can be developed in future which will focus on ensuring tumors don’t get fat which they need to spread.


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