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Obesity linked to five-fold chance of worsening prostate cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Obesity and prostate cancer

Chances of prostate cancer spread higher for obese men

Researchers find men who are obese have three times the chance that prostate cancer would spread to the bone and five times the risk that the disease will metastasize to other organs, compared to normal weight men.

Duke University Medical Center scientists found obesity worsens prostate cancer outcomes even among men given androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) that inhibits cancer fueling testosterone.

Christopher J. Keto, M.D., a urologic fellow at Duke University Medical Center and lead author of the study explains obesity and prostate cancer rates have increased over the past decades. One in six men experience prostate cancer and one in three men are obese.

In their study that included 287 veterans with the disease, the researchers looked at men whose prostate glands had been removed from 1988 to 2009, comparing outcomes between overweight and obese men to normal weight men.

All of the men had been given androgen deprivation therapy. The study found even though the group was given the same prostate cancer treatment, obese men were three to five times more likely to experience worsening of the disease.

Why prostate cancer more aggressive in obese men is unclear

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The researchers wonder if obese men need more hormone therapy - something they plan to explore further.

Stephen J. Freedland, M.D., associate professor of urology in the Duke Prostate Cancer Center and senior author of the study said, "By being thematic in our research we can really get to the bottom of something.

The study supports a growing body of literature showing that obese men with prostate cancer do worse. Our next step is to figure out why."

The research was presented at the American Urological Association annual meeting on May 15, 2011.

Freedland says it may be necessary to treat obese men with prostate cancer more aggressively. The Duke University group is studying the effect of diet and exercise in overweight and obese men with the disease who are also receiving ADT therapy.

The study shows obesity leads to worse prostate cancer outcomes. The next step is to understand how being obese leads to prostate cancer spread and how to intervene.