Diversifying populations of Japanese men used in study plotting their risk to prostate cancer reveals a potential dietar

July 27, 2012
Figure 1: A traditional Japanese breakfast of natto (fermented soy beans), sprinkled with compressed seaweed, is rich in vitamin K, a compound traditionally thought to fight cancer. Credit: iStockphoto/runin

Three previously unknown loci, or regions of the genome, are associated with an increased risk of Japanese men developing prostate cancer, according to RIKEN-led research on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with this disease1. An SNP associated with prostate cancer at a fourth locus—related to one found earlier in European men—appears to be associated with diet, the first hard evidence of such an environmental link.

These findings are the result of a -wide association study (GWAS) by Hidewaki Nakagawa of the RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine, Yokohama, and colleagues at universities and institutes in Japan and the USA. Repeating earlier work in Europeans, they compared the genetic profiles of Japanese groups of prostate cancer sufferers with non-sufferers. 

“We are aiming to construct a genetic risk model for the development of prostate cancer that we hope will [allow personalization of] prostate cancer diagnosis in the Japanese population,” Nakagawa says.

The researchers broadened the scope of an earlier study by adding three, more diverse, populations of Japanese men. One population included a cohort of men from Hawaii and California with Japanese ancestry. They tested nine loci that their previous study had indicated were nominally associated with the development of prostate cancer, but were not significant statistically.

The latest study not only allowed for testing of a single ethnic group likely to be affected by different environmental factors, but also provided a larger population size when combined with those surveyed in the previous work for a meta-analysis. The joint numbers included 7,141 prostate cancer sufferers and 11,804 non-sufferers.

The most recently identified loci are on chromosomes 11, 10, 3 and 2. Those on chromosomes 10 and 3 are not related to any known genes or proteins, but the researchers suggest they may be regions linked with gene regulation. The on chromosome 11 is associated with a gene whose function is unknown, but the locus on chromosome 2 is linked with GGCX, a vitamin K-dependent enzyme that regulates blood clotting, bone formation and cancer biology. Japanese foods such as natto and seaweeds are rich in vitamin K, which is thought to protect against cancer (Fig. 1). Interestingly, the association of this with was significant in all populations except for the Japanese in the USA, indicating that environmental factors, such as diet, are involved.

Explore further: Research determines apparent genetic link to prostate cancer in African-American men

More information: Akamatsu, S., et al. Common variants at 11q12, 10q26 and 3p11.2 are associated with prostate cancer susceptibility in Japanese. Nature Genetics 44, 426–429 (2012).

Related Stories

Research determines apparent genetic link to prostate cancer in African-American men

May 23, 2011
Some men of African descent may have a higher genetic risk of developing prostate cancer, according to research conducted at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC).

Pinpointing asthma susceptibility in Japanese adults

December 22, 2011
A team of geneticists has identified five specific gene regions associated with asthma susceptibility among Japanese adults. Mayumi Tamari of the RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine, Yokohama, led the research.

Recommended for you

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy

July 19, 2017
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center—using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice—has ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.