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Does Zinc Fight Prostate Cancer?

Date:
June 20, 2005
Source:
USDA / Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Scientists have known for decades that zinc may play a role in maintaining the health of the prostate, the walnut-size gland in males, located just behind the bladder. Now, studies led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist Liping Huang are providing new details about how zinc in the foods we eat might keep prostate cancer cells from proliferating and spreading.

Geneticist Liping Huang's studies of zinc in prostate cells may reveal more about the role of this nutrient in human prostate health.
Credit: Photo by Peggy Greb

Scientists have known for decades that zinc may play a role in maintaining the health of the prostate, the walnut-size gland in males, located just behind the bladder. Now, studies led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist Liping Huang are providing new details about how zinc in the foods we eat might keep prostate cancer cells from proliferating and spreading.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death among American men.

Huang is based at the ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, Calif. She's investigating the roles of zinc-transporter proteins, which move zinc in and out of cells in tissue, such as that in the prostate.

In a series of laboratory experiments, Huang and colleagues compared levels of zinc and zinc-transporter proteins in certain cancerous and noncancerous human prostate cells known as epithelial cells. They exposed the cells to a solution of zinc, then found that the cancerous cells accumulated lower levels of zinc compared to the normal cells. That might be explained by another of the team's findings: The cancerous cells had lower levels of a zinc-transporter protein known as ZIP1.

Although another zinc-ferrying-protein, ZIP3, was present in the cancer cells, it wasn't in the correct location.

In all, the results suggest that reduced levels of one transporter protein, ZIP1, and mislocation of another, ZIP3, may play a role in prostate cancer's progression. These preliminary findings are the first to provide direct evidence of the difference in levels and locations of zinc-transporter proteins in healthy and cancerous prostate epithelial cells.

For the experiments, Huang used cells that had the same genetic background. Dissimilar genetic backgrounds could have skewed test results.

ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency, and the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are funding the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA / Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA / Agricultural Research Service. "Does Zinc Fight Prostate Cancer?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050619193456.htm>.
USDA / Agricultural Research Service. (2005, June 20). Does Zinc Fight Prostate Cancer?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050619193456.htm
USDA / Agricultural Research Service. "Does Zinc Fight Prostate Cancer?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050619193456.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

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