Prostatic levels of fatty acids and the histopathology of localized prostate cancer

J Urol. 2000 Dec;164(6):2168-72.


Purpose: The consumption of various fatty acids has been associated with advanced stage and fatal prostate cancer. While numerous mechanisms have been postulated, to our knowledge there physiological data linking exposure and prognosis in humans are lacking. We examined prostatic levels of individual fatty acids in relation to the prevalence of histopathological characteristics associated with invasiveness and the risk of progression in 49 men undergoing radical prostatectomy for localized prostate cancer.

Materials and methods: Fatty acids were measured using capillary gas chromatography in fresh nonmalignant prostate tissue collected at surgery. Markers of invasiveness and increased risk of progression (Gleason sum 7 or greater, perineural invasion, anatomical or surgical margin involvement, extracapsular extension, seminal vesical involvement and stage T3 tumor) were evaluated separately. Each marker was dichotomized into a yes (case) and no (control) level with patients grouped accordingly. Mean concentrations were compared using the Wilcoxon rank sum test.

Results: The percent of total prostatic polyunsaturated fat and polyunsaturated-to-saturated fat ratios were significantly lower in the presence of perineural invasion, seminal vesical involvement and stage T3 tumor (p = 0.02 to 0.049). alpha-Linolenic acid was significantly lower when tumor extended to an anatomical or surgical margin (p = 0.008). The omega-3 and omega-3-to-omega-6 fatty acid ratios were 1.5 to 3.3-fold lower in cases than in controls, reaching borderline significance in nearly all comparisons (p = 0.052 to 0.097). Saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids were not associated with the traits examined.

Conclusions: These data suggest that polyunsaturated fatty acids and perhaps essential fatty acids in particular help to regulate prostate carcinogenesis in humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Prostate / chemistry*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated