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Prostate cancer risk linked to size, ethnicity

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers from University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's Cancer Research Center of Hawaii find that prostate cancer risk is linked to body size during younger and older adulthood. Weight gain during those periods can influence prostate cancer risk, but also varies according to ethnicity.

The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, studied the effects of obesity among blacks, Japanese, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians and whites, comparing age differences and the development of prostate cancer.

Increased prostate cancer risk was found among white and Native Hawaiian men who were overweight in adulthood.

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The study included 83,879 men age 45 to 75. Overall risk of localized and low-grade prostate cancer, decreased in all men who were overweight by age 21.

The findings suggest a strong association with increased risk of prostate cancer and body weight in older adulthood, but only among white and Native Hawaiian men. Black men also were found to be more at risk for localized and low-grade disease. Japanese men had a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Brenda Hernandez, Ph.D., M.P.H, assistant professor at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa's Cancer Research Center of Hawaii explains, "The relationship of certain characteristics, such as body size, with cancer risk may vary across ethnic groups due to the combined influence of both genes and lifestyle."

Inflammation from body fat is a known contributor to various types of cancer, but the influence of body weight on prostate cancer had been poorly understood. The researchers think it might be the way body fat is distributed among various ethnic groups responsible for the study findings. More aggressive forms of cancer could be the result of where we store body fat, leading to the differences found associated with weight gain, ethnicity and increased risk of prostate cancer.

UH News