Hundreds of lives lost to prostate cancer could be saved if men lost weight, a new study indicates. More than 1,300 prostate cancer deaths were credited to the average man in the UK being overweight.
While obesity has been connected to other 13 cancers – including stomach, liver, pancreas and kidney cancers – the association between prostate cancer and weight has only just started to be unpicked by scientists.
The new study, which is being presented at the European Congress on Obesity in the Netherlands and published in the journal BMC Medicine, found that for every five additional points on a man’s BMI score, they were 7% more likely to die from prostate cancer. And they had a 6% higher risk of dying of prostate cancer for every additional 4in (10cm) round their waistline.
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Waist circumference is used as a measure of obesity in addition as a BMI score because it indicates the amount of fat built up around a person’s organs. An examination of past studies also suggested that for every five additional points on a man’s BMI score, they were 10% more likely to die from prostate cancer, and an additional 4in (10cm) waist size carried a 7% higher risk.
Based on their findings, researchers calculated that if men were able to shave five points from their BMI score an estimated 1,309 fewer prostate cancer deaths would happen every year in Britain. Every year in the UK around 11,900 men die from prostate cancer
The study pointed out that global health leaders recommend that men should aim to have a waist circumference of 36in (92cm). Karis Betts, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, which funded the study, said: “This research looks at the likelihood of dying from prostate cancer for people who are overweight or obese, but further studies to probe whether obesity increases the risk of developing prostate cancer in the first place are needed.
“While the jury is out on the relationship between prostate cancer and obesity, it’s nevertheless important to keep a healthy weight as obesity causes 13 other types of cancer. However, by building on these useful findings in future, scientists can start to unpick what the mechanism of prostate cancer and obesity could be, helping them to better understand who is at an increased risk of getting and dying from the disease.”
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