EPIC Working Groups - Cancer Working Groups

The Prostate Cancer Working Group

Worldwide, prostate cancer is the fourth most common cancer in both sexes combined and the second most common cancer in men. The only well-established risk factors for prostate cancer are male sex, increasing age, positive family history, and a number of genetic markers. In EPIC, a wide range of potential risk factors has been examined, including lifestyle, dietary and hormonal, and genetic factors. The most important finding so far is that the risk of prostate cancer is positively associated with serum concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I)1. The group has also shown that serum levels of IGF-I are positively associated with the protein content of the diet, and has shown a modest positive association of dairy protein consumption with prostate cancer risk2. Studies of other candidate risk factors have produced largely null results, for example for selenium, vitamin D, carotenoids, and tocopherols3-5. Current research projects have been designed to improve our understanding of the relationship of diet, particularly dietary protein, with metabolomic profile in blood samples and prostate cancer risk.


Selected publications:

  1. Price AJ et al. Insulin-like growth factor-I concentration and risk of prostate cancer: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Sep;21(9):1531-41. PMID:22761305

  2. Allen NE et al. Animal foods, protein, calcium and prostate cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Br J Cancer. 2008 May 6;98(9):1574-81. PMID:18382426

  3. Allen NE et al. Plasma selenium concentration and prostate cancer risk: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Dec;88(6):1567-75. PMID:19064517

  4. Travis RC et al. Serum vitamin D and risk of prostate cancer in a case-control analysis nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Am J Epidemiol. 2009 May 15;169(10):1223-32. PMID:19359375

  5. Key TJ et al. Plasma carotenoids, retinol, and tocopherols and the risk of prostate cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Sep;86(3):672-81. PMID:17823432

Contact details/Working Group leader

Timothy Key, DPhil
Cancer Epidemiology Unit
University of Oxford
Oxford OX3 7LF
United Kingdom