What Causes Prostate Cancer?

In order to understand what causes prostate cancer, it’s important to understand how your gene’s functions.

What Causes Prostate Cancer?

Understand Gene Function

There are two basic types of genes whose purposes are to regular other cells inside the body. Oncogenes aid cells in maturation. They can also initiate cell division which is great for normal, healthy cells. When activated, however, oncogenes will also cause cancer cells to divide and multiply. Tumor suppressor genes are designed to repair or kill bad genes as well as maintain cell populations. When these genes are turned off, cancer cells go unchecked. While the exact cause of prostate cancer is still unknown, but for the most part, cancer is caused by abnormalities in the DNA.

Inherited Genes

Approximate 5-10% of prostate cancer cases are caused by inherited genes or defunct genes that are passed down from one generation to the next. For this reason, it’s important to keep careful records of your family medical history and use this information to try to reduce your chances of developing prostate cancer. For example, if your family does have a history of prostate cancer, make sure your doctor is aware and schedule regular exams after the age of 30. The RNASEL gene, formerly known as HPC1, is a tumor suppressor gene that’s passed down through reproduction. When this gene is compromised by mutation, it can’t do its job and kill the abnormal cells that cause cancer. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are similar but abnormalities of these genes are known to cause breast and ovarian cancer in females. Very few men with mutations in these genes develop prostate cancer.

Acquired Mutations

Throughout the course of a man’s life, it’s possible for him to acquire gene mutations through outside influences. It’s actually more common for prostate cancer to form via acquired gene mutations rather than being inherited. Androgens, for example, are male hormones that promote a healthy prostate and sex drive. Testerone is one type of androgen. Having too much testosterone can actually increase the risk of prostate cancer in men in the same way high levels of estrogen can cause cancer in women. Other factors like diet and exercise can promote or reduce your chances of gene mutation.

If you think you or someone you love is at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, regular exams are a must. For more information on the causes of prostate cancer and how to prevent it, consult your doctor and have yourself screened.

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