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The Microbiome: The Answer to Reducing Prostate Cancer Risk?

FASCINATING evidence has emerged from Cleveland Clinic researchers, suggesting a link between diet-associated gut molecules and aggressive forms of prostate cancer. This breaking research suggests that alterations in diet and lifestyle choices may be able to decrease risks of prostate cancer development. 

This study, led by Nima Sharifi, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Genitourinary Malignancies Research Center, Ohio, USA, included over 700 patients. Sharifi explained: “We found that men with higher levels of certain diet-related molecules are more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer.” The researchers involved analysed levels of specific dietary nutrients and metabolites from blood serum samples of patients involved in the National Cancer Institute’s Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. 

Scientists discovered a link between elevated phenylacetylglutamine (PAGln) and an increased risk of lethal prostate cancer diagnosis. The presence of this metabolite is a result of the breakdown of phenylalanine by gut microbiota. Increased levels of choline and betaine, two metabolites commonly found in animal products, have also been linked to a significantly higher risk of developing lethal prostate cancer. The presence of these metabolites has also been linked to increased cardiovascular disease and stroke. 

Stanley Hazen, a collaborator on the study and Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Microbiome and Human Health, Ohio, USA, initially identified in a 2020 study that PAGln binds to the same receptors as beta blockers, which may act to block the activity of these metabolites. Sharifi explained: “New insights are emerging from large-scale clinical datasets that show use of beta blockers is also associated with lower mortality due to prostate cancer.” Scientists also aim to establish the reliability of using the presence of these metabolites as biomarkers of aggressive prostate cancer, and the impact of diet on patient risk. Sharifi concluded: “We will continue to work together to investigate the possible mechanisms linking PAGln activity and prostate cancer disease processes in hopes of identifying new therapeutic targets for our patients.”