Body fat may predict aggressive prostate cancer

Excess weight not only raises your risk of prostate cancer, it can also mean more aggressive and fatal cancer, according to a study published online June 10, 2019, by Cancer.

Scientists found that the accumulation of visceral fat (the hidden kind that lies deep in the abdomen and surrounds the major organs) and subcutaneous fat in the thighs (which lies just under the skin) were both associated with a greater chance of developing advanced prostate cancer as well as dying from the disease. Researchers recruited more than 1,800 cancer-free men (average age 76) and measured their abdominal and thigh fat with CT scans. Measurements were also taken of waist size and body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity based on a person's height and weight.

After about 10 years, approximately 170 men got prostate cancer. Those with a higher waist size and BMI had greater risks of advanced and fatal cancer. Specifically, a five-point increase in BMI was associated with a 50% higher risk for both, and a 4.1-inch increase in waist size was associated with a 40% higher risk. Also, extra visceral fat was associated with a 31% higher risk of developing advanced prostate cancer. More subcutaneous fat in the thigh was associated with a 37% higher risk of dying from prostate cancer.

Another interesting finding was that the connection between visceral fat and advanced and fatal cancer was stronger among men with a lower BMI. This implies that even men with a normal BMI may still be at high risk for aggressive prostate cancer depending on where they carry their extra fat, according to the researchers.

They added that the results may help identify men more likely to develop dangerous prostate cancer, but stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy weight as part of overall prostate cancer prevention and management.


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