There is no single cause of prostate cancer, but there are several factors associated with higher incidence of prostate cancer. Learn more about the risk factors associated with prostate cancer.
Unraveling the genetics of prostate cancer has been difficult, and no high-risk, prostate-specific genes seem to exist. The closest candidate is BRCA2, which confers a risk of prostate cancer that is as much as 20 times the risk in the general population. Inherited DNA mutations are thought to cause five to 10 percent of all prostate cancers. A specific mutation called hereditary prostate cancer gene 1 (HPC1) is currently the subject of much research, but tests for it are not yet available.
Androgens (male hormones such as testosterone) cause prostate cells to grow, and high levels of androgens may increase the risk of prostate cancer in men. In fact, drugs that reduce androgen production are often used in prostate-cancer treatment. In addition, a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) may also be associated with prostate cancer. Some studies on IGF-1 have shown a link to prostate cancer, but others have not.
There is some evidence, though it is not yet conclusive, that the risk of prostate cancer increases with exposure to cadmium, a chemical that's is linked to certain occupations, including power plant operator, railroad worker, welder, and mechanic. In addition, exposure to pesticides that contain chlorine and methyl bromide are also associated with prostate cancer; farm workers are most likely to come in contact with these pesticides on a regular basis.