Prostate cancer deaths tied to obesity

Obese men diagnosed with prostate cancer are twice as likely as healthy weight men to die from the disease, new research shows.

The heavier a man is at time of diagnosis the greater his risk of death, according to a study published in Monday’s issue of the journal, Cancer.

After five years, the death rate for normal weight men from locally advanced prostate cancer was 6.5 per cent, compared with 13 per cent for overweight and obese men.

And, it’s not known whether losing weight after a diagnosis of prostate cancer makes a difference in survival.

“To the best of our knowledge this is the first large study using prospective data to evaluate the relationship between obesity and mortality in men treated for locally advanced prostate cancer,” the team reports.

About one-third of Canadian men are obese, and an estimated 22,300 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Whether excess weight has anything to do with the risk of developing prostate cancer in the first place is controversial, says Dr. Matthew Smith, director of genitourinary medical oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston.

Some data suggest obesity is a risk factor for aggressive prostate cancer. Other data show that fat men who are treated with radiation or surgery for early stage disease have a greater risk of having a rising PSA, or prostate specific antigen test — a sign the disease is coming back.

“But the relationship between PSA recurrence and death from prostate cancer is relatively weak,” Smith says. “The real question that matters is, OK, you’re diagnosed with the disease. Does your body mass index predict your risk of dying from cancer? And that’s what we tried to address.”

His team reached back into the database of a previously published trial involving 788 men who were followed for more than eight years. All had locally advanced prostate cancer, where the disease hasn’t spread to distant organs but is considered high-risk. All received radiation; half got hormone therapy as well.

The study doesn’t unravel the link between obesity and poor prognosis, but there are many possible explanations why such an association could occur. For example, obese men might be less likely to be screened for prostate cancer and therefore diagnosed with more advanced disease, and once diagnosed have a worse outcome. It’s possible that screening and treatments may also be less effective in obese men.

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  1. […] TruthSeeker added an interesting post on Prostate cancer deaths tied to obesity.Here’s a small excerpt:“To the best of our knowledge this is the first large study using prospective data to evaluate the relationship between obesity and mortality in men treated for locally advanced prostate cancer,” the team reports. … […]

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