Public Release: 

Lifestyle biomarkers investigated in prostate cancer survivors

The clinical trial will study whether dietary and exercise interventions can decrease advanced glycation end products -- metabolites formed during regular metabolism of sugars in the diet -- that have been linked to cancer.

Medical University of South Carolina

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which have been linked to many chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, build up in the body from birth due to normal metabolism but are often higher in those eating the high-fat, high-sugar, highly processed foods characteristic of the Western diet. AGE levels have been linked to lifestyle, such as diet and exercise, and lifestyle changes were shown in previous studies at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to drive a reduction in AGEs in breast cancer patients. AGEs may also yield insight into health care disparities. For example, black men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men and may have higher AGE levels due to low income, poor diet and obesity.

David Turner, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at MUSC, in collaboration with Mahtabbuddin Ahmed, Ph.D., at South Carolina State University (SCSU), are co-principal investigators for a clinical trial that opened in January 2018 to determine if lifestyle changes can reduce AGEs and disease recurrence in prostate cancer survivors. Although AGEs have been studied in other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, this is among the first trials to look at AGEs in cancer survivors.

The trial aims to determine whether a decrease in AGEs through dietary and exercise intervention can improve quality of life and decrease tumor recurrence in both African American and European American patients. Funding for the trial was recently awarded to Dr. Turner and Dr. Ahmed through an NIH/NCI U54 study led by Judith Salley-Guydon, Ph.D. at SCSU and Marvella Ford, Ph.D. at MUSC.

Each institution is recruiting 60 prostate cancer survivors for a 12-week dietary and physical activity intervention based on cardiovascular disease rehabilitation. The physical activity intervention will be supervised and individualized for 12 weeks, with unsupervised follow-ups that continue throughout the year. Fitness trackers will be given to each study participant to track exercises for the entirety of the trial. Participants will complete dietary questionnaires to track diet and document how many AGEs are consumed.

To determine whether these lifestyle changes have had an effect on the immune system, biomarkers such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) and AGE levels will be measured. Preliminary data from the breast cancer patients studied earlier show a reduction in AGEs without a change in IL-6 or CRP, which indicates AGEs could be a better biomarker of lifestyle changes than previously used biomarkers. The current trial in prostate cancer survivors will enable further analysis of AGEs as a biomarker of lifestyle.

"This could be a real landmark study, especially if it turns out that AGEs are a better biomarker than what is available," says Turner. To learn more about this and other trials at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, call 843-792-9321.

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About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents in six colleges (Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy), and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.2 billion, with an annual economic impact of more than $3.8 billion and annual research funding in excess of $250 million. MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized children's hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute-designated center), Level I trauma center, Institute of Psychiatry, and the state's only transplant center. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the number one hospital in South Carolina. For more information on academic programs or clinical services, visit musc.edu. For more information on hospital patient services, visit muschealth.org.

About MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

The Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and the largest academic-based cancer research program in South Carolina. The cancer center comprises more than 120 faculty cancer scientists with an annual research funding portfolio of $44 million and a dedication to reducing the cancer burden in South Carolina. Hollings offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques within multidisciplinary clinics that include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists and other specialists equipped for the full range of cancer care, including more than 200 clinical trials. For more information, visit http://www.hollingscancercenter.org.

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