Lauren Hurwitz, Ph.D., MHS

Photo of Dr. Lauren Hurwitz

Postdoctoral Fellow

National Cancer Institute

Serum Organochlorine Insecticide Levels and Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer in African Men

There are marked geographic and racial disparities in aggressive prostate cancer, with rates particularly high among men of African descent. African American men in the U.S. and men from West Africa have also been shown to have increased exposure to organochlorine pesticides (OCPs). Limited evidence suggests that exposure to OCPs may be associated with increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer, but additional research in diverse populations with OCP exposure is needed.

To address this gap, Dr. Hurwitz and her team initiated a study to measure serum concentrations of 7 OCPs and their metabolites in prostate cancer cases and controls from the Ghana Prostate Study. They aim to expand this study to search for genetic determinants of serum OCP concentrations among the Ghana Prostate Study controls.

Dr. Hurwitz proposes to measure serum OCPs in an additional 80 controls from the Ghana Prostate Study and conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of OCP concentrations in the controls with both serum OCP measurements and GWAS data. Dr. Hurwitz and her team hope to subsequently use these genetic markers as a proxy for studying OCP exposure in other study populations with GWAS data.

This project will facilitate expansion of their research to other African descent study populations without direct, costly measurement of serum OCP levels. Ultimately, this project will further their knowledge of prostate cancer etiology and examine a putative risk factor for aggressive prostate cancer that is inequitably distributed, potentially contributing to geographic and racial disparities.

Page updated December 8, 2021