Zinc is a group IIB heavy metal. It is an important regulator of major cell signaling pathways in most mammalian cells, functions as an antioxidant and plays a role in maintaining genomic stability. Zinc deficiency leads to severe diseases in the brain, pancreas, liver, kidneys and reproductive organs. Zinc loss occurs during tumor development in a variety of cancers. The prostate normally contains abundant intracellular zinc and zinc loss is a hallmark of the development of prostate cancer development. The underlying mechanism of this loss is not clearly understood. The knowledge that excess zinc prevents the growth of prostate cancers suggests that zinc-mediated therapeutics could be an effective approach for cancer prevention and treatment, although challenges remain. This review summarizes the specific roles of zinc in several cancer types focusing on prostate cancer. The relationship between prostate cancer and the dysregulation of zinc homeostasis is examined in detail in an effort to understand the role of zinc in prostate cancer.
Keywords: homeostasis; prostate; prostate cancer; tumor growth; zinc.