Estrogen may reprogram prostate cancer gene in black men

Lack of chemical tags may lead to higher risk

4:51pm, June 15, 2009

WASHINGTON — A new study shows how chemical tags on DNA may lead to higher rates of prostate cancer in black men. And estrogen may play a role, researchers reported June 12 at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Washington, D.C.

“It may be that estrogen can reprogram the genome,” says study coauthor Wan-yee Tang of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.

In black men, Tang and her colleagues found fewer of the chemical tags, called methyl groups, near the portion of DNA that encodes a gene active in the prostate than the team found in white men. The lack of these epigenetic tags may alter the gene’s activity and upset the balance of other proteins in the cell, making the cell more vulnerable to becoming cancerous, the researchers propose.

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