Health scientists have been actively engaged in prostate cancer research along different lines for quite some time. The aspects of their research include considerations like diet and its role in developing/preventing prostate cancer, chemoprevention, genetic causes of prostate cancer, and diagnosis of prostate cancer. Much research has been conducted during the past decade on using diet as a preventive mean of prostate cancer. Studies reveal that low fat and high vegetable consumption prevents prostate cancer. The rate of prostate cancer has been found higher for immigrants who leave their low risk countries and move to the United States. Some of the helpful foods against prostate cancer include tomatoes (preferably cooked), soy, foods containing selenium (fish, red meat, eggs, chicken, and garlic) and Vitamin E (whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil), and green tea.
Chemoprevention refers to the use of drugs for preventing cancer. Prostate cancer research on chemoprevention is focused on certain chemicals that block the action of testosterone hormone. Testosterone has been known to promote prostate cancer after it changes into its active form called dihydrotestosterone. Researchers have come up with some success in preventing this conversion by means of a hormone drug called finasteride. While it has proved effective in some cases, in others the drug appears ineffectual. Further studies are underway to synthesize more useful chemicals against prostate cancer. Research on prostate cancer does not overlook the health effects of drugs that are used for chemoprevention or prostate treatment. There is some evidence that drugs frequently used for treating prostate cancer increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Genetic Causes of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer research has identified some genes that increase the risk of prostate cancer. An important one of these is the PTEN, discovered in 1998 by British scientists. MSR1 is another gene, discovered by American researchers, held responsible for prostate cancer in people who have a family history of the disease. British researchers are now studying another gene called E2F3 which appears unusually active in cases of prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
Developing more efficient and accurate diagnostic tests for prostate cancer is a fundamental part of the prostate cancer research. At the moment, there is no single satisfactory screening test for early diagnosis of prostate cancer in apparently healthy men. Two testing techniques are mainly used for diagnosis: PSA test and MCM5 protein test. PSA is short for Prostate Specific Antigen, a protein found in the blood of both normal individuals and prostate patients. In the latter, the level of PSA is higher. MCM5 proteins are usually higher in the urine of prostate patients. They have been found helpful in indicating early stage bladder cancer in men.