Prostate Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Is Body Fat Associated With Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer?

By: Lauren Harrison, MS
Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2019

An increase in the accumulation of body fat seems to be associated with an increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer, based on a study published in Cancer. Barbara A. Dickerman, PhD, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, along with her colleagues suggest their study findings may improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of prostate cancer.

“Further studies are needed to investigate whether the fat depots themselves exert systemic or local effects in ways that promote aggressive disease or whether they are markers for a physical activity pattern or underlying hormonal milieu that influences both fat distribution and aggressive disease,” explained the investigators.

Reportedly the first of its kind, this prospective study (Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility [AGES]-Reykjavik) followed 1,832 men from 2002 to 2006. Patients underwent baseline computed tomography imaging of fat deposition, bioelectric impedance analysis, measurement of body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference. They were then followed with nationwide cancer registries for the incidence of total, high-grade, advanced, and fatal prostate cancers until 2015.

Men participating in the study had a median BMI of 27 kg/m2 and a median waist circumference of 102 cm. By the end of study follow-up, 172 patients had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Visceral fat was found to be associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate disease (hazard ratio = 1.31 per 1 standard deviation increase), whereas thigh subcutaneous fat was noted to increase the risk of fatal disease (hazard ratio = 1.37 per 1 standard deviation increase) for all men. Men who had lower BMIs (< 27 kg/m2) had an increased risk of developing both advanced and fatal disease if they had higher amounts of visceral fat. For every 5 kg/m2 increase in BMI, patients had a 50% increase in the hazard for advanced and fatal prostate cancers. Additionally, every standard-deviation increase in waist circumference led to a 40% rise in hazard for advanced and fatal prostate cancers. No measured parameters exhibited a significant association with total prostate cancer or cancer grade.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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