VOLUNTEERS being sought for prostate cancer study in Oklahoma

Wednesday, July 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The nation's largest-ever prostate cancer study is looking for 250 volunteers in Oklahoma, physicians said Tuesday.

The 12-year clinical trial of 250 men will focus on selenium and vitamin E to see if they prevent a biochemical reaction that transforms normal prostate cells into cancerous ones.

``We want to determine if these innocuous chemicals should become a part of every man's daily health ritual,'' said Dr. James Hampton, study director and cancer specialist.

Nationwide, 32,400 men are needed for the study, which is being overseen by the National Cancer Institute.

``This is the first study designed to look directly at the effects of selenium and vitamin E, both separately and together, in preventing prostate cancer,'' Hampton said.

``Previous research involving selenium and vitamin E suggested that these nutrients might prevent prostate cancer, but we don't know for sure. Hopefully, when the study is finished we will know whether these supplements can prevent prostate cancer.''

About 200,000 men nationwide will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, health officials said. Of those, more than 31,500 are expected to die from the disease.

In Oklahoma, 2,200 men will be diagnosed this year, and about 300 of those will die from it.

Healthy men, age 55 and older, are being sought. Those participating in the research must commit to physical check-ups four times a year during the first year and at regular intervals thereafter.

There is no upper age limit for participation.

Researchers would like black men to make up 20 percent of the volunteers because blacks are significantly more susceptible to prostate cancer, although medical practitioners don't know why. Black men can volunteer at age 50.

The double-blind study will have four separate groups; one receiving specific amounts of selenium, one given just vitamin E, one given both substances, and another given placebos.