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Study Ties Genes to Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, Prostate Cancer Risk

TUESDAY May 22, 2012 -- Certain gene variants linked to prostate cancer may make men more susceptible to lower urinary tract symptoms, according to a new study. On the other hand, a different gene variant might protect against those symptoms, the study found.

Researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago identified 38 genetic sequence variants linked to prostate cancer risk in nearly 2,000 healthy, white men enrolled in a prostate cancer screening study. The men completed questionnaires on the severity of their lower urinary tract symptoms, their age and whether they took medications used to treat enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).

Four of the genetic variants were associated with severity of urinary tract symptoms, even after taking into account other genetic variations, age and medication use.

The study was scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA), in Atlanta.

"We know that increased [prostate-specific antigen] levels are a risk factor for prostate cancer, however, levels also increase with other non-cancerous conditions, including surgical interventions," Dr. Tobias Kohler, a member of the AUA public media committee, said in an association news release. "Having an understanding of other factors that may contribute to urinary symptoms and prostate cancer susceptibility affords us the opportunity to better diagnose and treat the condition."

While the study uncovered an association between the gene variants and urinary tract symptoms, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Because the study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about prostate cancer.

Posted: May 2012


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