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A drug that successfully treats diabetes may help to treat and prevent prostate cancer. In 1994, Bruce Spiegelman of Harvard discovered a protein called PPAR Gamma that converts unspecialized cells in your body to fat cells. This could have spectacular use in preventing and treating many diseases, particularly diabetes and cancer. Normal people store fat in their fat cells. Since PPAR gamma makes new fat cells, and people who have low levels of PPAR gamma do not have enough fat cells, they store extra calories as fat in the liver, blood vessels, or pancreas and damage them.

Diabetics get horrible side effects, such a blindness, deafness, liver failure, kidney failure, itching, heart attacks, strokes, amputations and so forth. High blood sugar levels are converted to fat which is supposed to be stored in fat cells. But these people don't have enough fat cells, so they store extra fat in liver and kidneys to cause fatty liver and kidney failure, in nerves to cause blindness and deafness, in arteries to cause strokes and heart attacks, and so forth. More than a million diabetics take Actos, to raise PPAR gamma, which helps them store fat in fat cells and prevents the fat from being stored in other tissues that would otherwise be damaged by the accumulation. Remember, if you have low levels of PPAR Gamma, you do not make enough fat cells, so when you take in too many calories, the extra calories are converted to fat and the fat is driven into other tissues to destroy them. So diabetics are damaged by extra fat stored in their tissues. Drugs that raise PPAR gamma makes new fat cells that can store fat in them, and therefore protect other tissues from being damaged.

Now for the cancer connection. Just as raising blood levels of PPAR gamma helps form new fat cells to help control diabetes, raising blood levels of PPAR gamma also reduces tumor growth in a number of different malignancies including prostate cancer. Cancer is a disease in which cells are stimulated too much so they do not die, but continue to grow. Drugs used to treat diabetes, such as Actos, form fat cells and take away the fat from other tissues to stop them from growing.

Genes and Development, January 2002

Checked 8/9/05

May 16th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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