Prostate tumors tend to be what scientists call "indolent" - so slow-growing and self-contained that many affected men die with prostate cancer, not of it. But for the percentage of men whose prostate tumors metastasize, the disease is invariably fatal. In a set of papers published online on January 15, 2018 in the journals Nature Genetics and Nature Communications, researchers at the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston shed new light on the genetic mechanisms that promote metastasis in the mouse model and also implicated the typical Western high-fat diet as a key environmental factor driving metastasis. The Nature Genetics article is titled An Aberrant SREBP-Dependent Lipogenic Program Promotes Metastatic Prostate Cancer.” The open-access Nature Communications article is titled “Deregulated PP1α Phosphatase Activity Towards MAPK Activation Is Antagonized by a Tumor Suppressive Failsafe Mechanism.” "Although it is widely postulated that a Western diet can promote prostate cancer progression, direct evidence supporting a strong association between dietary lipids and prostate cancer has been lacking," said first author Ming Chen, PhD, a research fellow in the laboratory of Pier Paolo Pandolfi (photo), MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC. Epidemiological data links dietary fats (and obesity) to many types of cancer, and rates of cancer deaths from metastatic cancers including prostate cancer are much higher in the United States than in nations where lower fat diets are more common. While prostate cancer affects about 10 percent of men in Asian nations, that rate climbs to about 40 percent when they immigrate to the U.S., mirroring the rates among the native-born U.S. population.
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