High zinc intake is associated with an elevated risk of advanced prostate cancer, according to an Italian study.

The hospital-based study compared 1,294 men with histologically confirmed prostate cancer with 1,451 patients admitted for various non-neoplastic and non-hormone diseases. The investigators computed zinc intake using patient responses to a food frequency questionnaire.

Compared with the lowest quintile of zinc intake, the highest quintile of intake was associated with a significant twofold increased risk of tumors with a high Gleason score, the researchers reported in European Urology (2007; published online ahead of print).

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Zinc has been thought to be involved in prostate cancer development be-cause its concentration in the prostate is higher than in most other tissues. Previous studies of the association between zinc and prostate cancer risk have yielded inconsistent results.