School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Grant funds study of metabolic syndrome relationship to prostate cancer disparities

Isaac J. Powell, M.D.

Isaac J. Powell, M.D.

Isaac J. Powell, M.D., a professor of Urology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Karmanos Cancer Institute, has secured a grant to investigate the influence of metabolic syndrome on prostate cancer and the risk of recurrence in African-American men.

The $564,375 health disparity grant from the U.S. Department of Defense will fund Dr. Powell’s three-year study.

Deaths from prostate cancer are more than two times higher among African-American men than among European-Americans, Dr. Powell said. Genetics and environmental factors, including diet, play a major role in the disparity.

Recent reports suggest a link between prostate cancer and metabolic syndrome, which includes a cluster of symptoms such as abdominal obesity, high serum fat levels, low HDL cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. The reports, Dr. Powell said, indicate that the presence of any three of these factors are associated with a 56 percent increase in prostate cancer risk.

“We hypothesize that metabolic syndrome plays a significant role in the aggressiveness and biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer among African-American men and may contribute significantly to disparity in outcomes among African-American men compared to European-American men,” Dr. Powell explained.

African-American men have been reported to have the highest incidence of obesity and hypertension in the United States. They also develop more aggressive prostate cancer.

Dr. Powell will compare the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among patients with an aggressive form of the disease as compared to non-aggressive forms. He will additionally stratify patients by race to examine whether the relationships to metabolic syndrome differ between African-Americans and European-Americans.

“We expect these studies will confirm our hypotheses that metabolic syndrome significantly contributes to racial disparity in prostate cancer recurrence and outcome,” Dr. Powell said. “Validation of this association will lead to better education, testing and treatment options in the African-American community, and ultimately will have significant impact on disparity of the death rate and complications associated with advanced prostate cancer, as well as the cost of health care.”

Specimens collected during the research, Dr. Powell said, will serve as a basis for future studies on biological and genetic indicators of aggressive prostate cancer, which could lead to new therapeutic interventions and prevention of aggressive forms of the disease.

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