The future of prostate cancer prevention

Otis W. Brawley, Shakia Barnes, Howard Parnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The dramatic international variation in prostate cancer mortality rates suggest an environmental influence. This combined with a building understanding of the genetic mechanisms of carcinogenesis encourages a search for ways to prevent it. Androgenic stimulation over a period of time has been suggested a cause of prostate cancer. The corollary to this hypothesis is that lowering androgenic stimulation over time will prevent prostate cancer. Decreasing androgenic stimulation of the prostate with 5-α-reductase inhibitors such as finasteride has been shown to decrease prostate size and may prevent prostate cancer. A large, long-term clinical trial is underway using finasteride to determine if it can prevent prostate cancer. Results are expected in 2004. Epidemiologic and laboratory studies also suggest that high selenium and vitamin E intake lowers risk of prostate cancer. Recent serendipitous findings of two randomized clinical trials support the hypothesis that selenium and vitamin administration will decrease prostate cancer risk. A study to assess these compounds is beginning. Other promising, but less developed, interventions in chemoprevention of prostate cancer include vitamin D supplementation and diet modification. All will need to be rigorously evaluated before they can be advocated for prostate cancer prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-α-reductase inhibitor
  • Chemoprevention
  • Clinical trials
  • Prostate
  • Prostate cancer
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • α-tocopherol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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