New concepts in tissue specificity for prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia

Urology. 1999 Mar;53(3 Suppl 3a):29-39; discussion 39-42. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(98)00536-6.


Of the hundreds of species of mammals, all of which have prostate glands, only humans and dogs are known to suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate carcinoma. In humans, prostate carcinoma is common, yet carcinomas of other sex accessory tissues are rare. In addition, different anatomic regions within the prostate gland have very different rates of BPH and carcinoma. In this article, we explore ideas and potential mechanisms relating to these paradoxical findings that may help explain the species, organ, and zone specificity of BPH and prostate cancer. We present an evolutionary argument that attempts to relate a high-fat diet, with its potential for generating oxidative DNA damage, to the species selectivity of prostate cancer. In addition, we outline an argument based on our preliminary studies indicating that chronic inflammation and the associated increase in cell turnover in the setting of increased oxidative stress may help to account for the organ selectivity of genitourinary carcinomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Cycle Proteins*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • DNA Damage
  • Diet
  • Epithelium
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor / genetics
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Prostate / cytology
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / etiology
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / pathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prostatitis / complications
  • Seminal Vesicles
  • Species Specificity
  • Stem Cells
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Glutathione Transferase