A new study finds that men who are taller or obese have a higher chance of developing aggressive prostate cancer tumors.
Researchers examined data from 519,978 participants from 10 European countries to determine factors leading to the development of prostate cancer. Approximately 150,000 of the participants made up the study cohort for this research. The researchers specifically looked at the influence of height and weight on the development of the disease and risk of death thereafter. The study has been named the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Past studies have focused on risk levels overall without accounting for advanced or high-grade tumors. This study looks specifically at tumor characteristics and their relationship to height and weight in prostate cancer patients.
All of the participants in the study were white males whose data was analyzed for nearly 14 years. By the time the study concluded, there were 7,024 diagnoses of prostate cancer. Seven hundred and twenty-six of these cases were aggressive forms of the disease, and there was a total of 934 deaths after diagnosis.
The results of the study “found that every 10cm increment in height increased the chance of developing high-grade prostate cancer by 21% and the risk of death from the disease by 17 percent.” Obesity was also a factor found to be linked to a higher likelihood of contracting aggressive prostate cancer. The researchers did find that maintaining a healthy body weight reduced the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer and death after the fact.
The findings on weight are potentially unreliable, the scientists say, and may be related to issues with detection techniques. Men who are obese are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, as “they have lower concentrations of prostate-specific antigens, are less likely to undergo a biopsy and tend to have larger prostates, making detection more difficult.”
As early detection of cancer is crucial to treatment, it makes sense that obese men are more likely to develop high-grade prostate cancer if the disease remains undetected until it has progressed dramatically. Something else that was unusual about the findings, was that height was not linked to contracting prostate cancer overall, but only to higher incidences of aggressive forms of the disease.
These results could lead to further insights into bodily mechanisms that promote prostate cancer development. The specific physical traits analyzed here could indicate genetic markers that show a predisposition for developing the disease. The researchers also emphasize how these findings underline the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.