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08-12-2009 | Oncology | Article

Compound found in beer may help prevent prostate cancer


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MedWire News: The natural compound xanthohumol (XN), which is derived from hops, may help prevent prostate cancer, study findings show.

XN is found in plants, fruits, vegetables, and spices, and has been shown to possess a range of chemopreventive actions including: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-estrogenic mechanisms, and growth inhibition in vitro and in vivo.

The compound, a prenylated chalcone, works by blocking the effects of the male hormone testosterone – a known factor in prostate cancer development – says the research team reporting the current findings.

Previous research has shown that XN blocks the action of the female hormone estrogen, and Clarissa Gerhauser, from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, and team hoped to see a similar effect in the male hormone androgen during their research.

“We hope that one day we can demonstrate that XN prevents prostate cancer development, first in animal models and then in humans, but we are just at the beginning,” said Gerhauser.

Gerhauser presented the findings this week at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference in Houston, Texas, USA

The team used molecular modeling to show the effects of XN on testosterone in hormone-depleted prostate cancer cells.

The researchers stimulated LNCaP human prostate cancer cells with 25 nM of dihydrotestosterone, to which a concentration of 10 µM XN was added. They observed that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, which are used to screen for the presence of prostate cancer, were inhibited by more than 90% after 24, 48, and 72 hours of incubation.

In addition, the researchers observed XN binding directly to the androgen receptor structure which in turn “prevented the receptor from translocating to the cell nucleus, thus inhibiting its potential to stimulate the secretion of PSA and other hormone-dependent effects,” said Gerhauser.

The team concludes: “Taken together, in the present study, XN was identified as a potent novel anti-androgen, which might be of use for future prostate cancer prevention trials.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2009

By Sarah Guy

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