Men with larger waists and more belly fat might be at greater risk of dying from prostate cancer, warns study

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.


                            Men with larger waists and more belly fat might be at greater risk of dying from prostate cancer, warns study
(Getty Images)

There is a significant connection between the concentration of body fat around the belly and waist, otherwise known as central adiposity, and the risk of death from prostate cancer, caution scientists. They found that there was no clear association of body mass index (BMI) or total fat percentage with risk, but there was a positive link between measures of central adiposity and risk of prostate cancer death. According to the analysis, men with larger waists were more likely to die of prostate cancer. Those in the top 25% for waist circumference were 35% more likely to die of prostate cancer than men in the bottom 25%. Those in the top 25% for waist-to-hip ratio were 34% more likely to die than men in the bottom 25%, say experts.

“Men with higher abdominal fat have a higher risk of dying from prostate cancer when compared to men with lower abdominal fat. To avoid body fat to be located around the waist, men are advised to maintain a healthy weight by following a healthy diet and practicing regular physical activity,” study author Dr Aurora Perez-Cornago and other researchers at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, UK, told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).

She adds, “We found no clear association between total body fat and risk of prostate cancer death. However, a larger number of cases in this study together with studies in other populations are needed to confirm these findings.” Dr Perez-Cornago emphasizes that a high BMI increases the risk of other diseases, including other types of cancer, “so people should consider the implications of excess body fat wherever it is found in the body.” “Future work will examine associations between adiposity and aggressive types of prostate cancer, including advanced-stage and high-grade disease," she says.

Funded by Cancer Research UK, the analysis of over 210,000 UK men was presented at this year’s European and International Conference on Obesity (ECOICO). It aimed to understand how both total adiposity and the distribution of fat in the body relate to fatal prostate cancer.

The investigators found that those in the top 25% for waist circumference were 35% more likely to die of prostate cancer than men in the bottom 25% (Getty Images)

According to the American Cancer Society, other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that there may be about 191,930 new cases of prostate cancer in 2020, and about 33,330 could die from prostate cancer this year in the US. “About 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men and African-American men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40. The average age at diagnosis is about 66. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind only lung cancer. About 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer,” reveal estimates.

In the UK, prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-specific death among men. The disease affects one in six men during their lifetime, causing more than a quarter of all new male cancer cases, and almost 12,000 deaths every year in the UK.

An estimated 500,000 volunteers, in the 40-69 age group, were recruited between 2006 and 2010 in the UK Biobank study. For the current analysis, the authors selected 218,225 men who were voluntary participants in the UK Biobank study. They were free from cancer at the baseline date. 

The participants’ health was followed for 10.8 years using data from health administrative databases, and details of body mass index, total body fat percentage (measured using bioimpedance), waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio were collected when each volunteer was recruited. Statistical analyses that accounted for medical history, and socioeconomic and lifestyle factors were used to estimate links between the risk of dying from prostate cancer and these measures of adiposity. During the follow-up period, 571 men died from prostate cancer. “BMI and total body fat percentage were not associated with prostate cancer death. Waist circumference (hazard ratio 1.35) and waist-to-hip ratio (hazard ratio 1.34) were positively associated with the risk of dying from prostate cancer,” the findings conclude.

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