A diet rich in fats and a fairly sedentary lifestyle have turned obesity into an epidemic of disturbing proportions – one that is on the rise in both the young and the old alike. Obesity can be a nightmare for many, more so because various other ailments like diabetes, heart problems and, yes, even cancer follow suit. So how is prostate cancer a co-conspirator in this equation? Obesity is a condition that causes several changes in the body – it interferes with hormone production and is known to suppress male hormone production. It also increases the risk of diabetes. To top it, obesity is also associated with several secondary health issues. And all of these factors can snowball into a serious risk of prostate cancer.
The BMI Link
One of the most reliable indicators of obesity is the Body Mass Index (BMI). Research shows that an increased BMI can significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer.1 In one study, when researchers covered a broad group of men already diagnosed with cancer without consideration of treatment, stage, or grade of prostate cancer, they found that most participants were white males; 60% were less than 60 years of age at diagnosis; and their mean BMI was 26.7, with 17% classified as obese. Overall, the risk of metastasis, that is, the risk of the tumor spreading to another organ, increased with BMI.2
The Diabetes Link
Obesity causes insulin resistance, a condition in which the body produces insulin but cannot use it. Scientists have studied the associations between prostate cancer and the polymorphisms of the insulin gene and found that it may contribute to the unique nature of prostate cancer.3
The Western Diet Link
Another important factor that influences prostate cancer is the so-called Western diet – a diet rich in saturated fat, red meat, and empty calories such as those in aerated drinks. Studies show a direct link between such a diet and the incidence of both obesity and prostate cancer.4 A diet rich in fats works in two ways – it increases the production of a growth hormone known to raise prostate cancer risk, and it hampers our ability to consume food that may actually prevent cancer.
Obesity And The Risk Of Prostate Cancer Death
If you have a family history of prostate cancer or have already developed it, being obese can actually increase the risk
|↑1||Putnam, Shannon D., James R. Cerhan, Alexander S. Parker, Gregory D. Bianchi, Robert B. Wallace, Kenneth P. Cantor, and Charles F. Lynch. “Lifestyle and anthropometric risk
|↑2||Gong, Zhihong, Ilir Agalliu, Daniel W. Lin, Janet L. Stanford, and Alan R. Kristal. “Obesity is associated with increased risks of prostate cancer metastasis and death after initial cancer diagnosis in middle‐aged men.” Cancer 109, no. 6 (2007): 1192-1202.|
|↑3||Ho, G. Y. F., A. Melman,
|↑4||Freedland, Stephen J., and William J. Aronson. “Examining the relationship between obesity and prostate cancer.” Reviews in urology 6, no. 2 (2004): 73.|
|↑5||Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Prostate Cancer, American Institute for Cancer Research.|
|↑6||Freedland, Stephen J., and Alan W. Partin. “Obesity and prostate cancer detection and progression.” Reviews in urology 6, no. 4 (2004): 214.|
|↑7||Obesity and Cancer Risk, National Cancer Institute.|