A Kansas State University professor is turning to nutrition to tackle prostate cancer.
Brian Lindshield, assistant professor of human nutrition, is helping men make more informed diet decisions by studying foods and dietary supplements that may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among men in the United States.
"I'm interested in researching ways to prevent prostate cancer rather than how to treat it after a person has been diagnosed with cancer," Lindshield said.
The goal of Lindshield's research is twofold: He is performing basic studies that examine specific drugs as well as dietary supplements. His research has been supported by grants from the Johnson Cancer Research Center and the National Institute of Health Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, or COBRE, for epithelial function in health and disease.
One project focuses specifically on two drugs -- finasteride and dutasteride -- that are used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which is an enlargement of the prostate. Both drugs inhibit enzymes that convert the male hormone testosterone to a more potent form, called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Finasteride inhibits one of these enzymes, while dutasteride inhibits both of these enzymes.
Because these drugs inhibit DHT production, they may also prevent the development of prostate cancer. Several clinical trials have shown that both drugs decrease prostate cancer incidence, but at a cost.
"Among the men who took these drugs and still got prostate cancer, more of them had a high-grade or more aggressive prostate cancer," Lindshield said. "It's kind of a double-edged sword. These drugs can lower the risk of developing prostate cancer, but they also might lead to worse outcomes for men who do develop the disease."
That's where Lindshield's research fits in: He is comparing finasteride and dutasteride to see if one is better than the other.
"Our hypothesis is that dutasteride is a better option because it inhibits both enzymes while finasteride only inhibits one," Lindshield said.