How Prostate Cancer is Linked to Obesity?

Prostate Cancer is Linked to Obesity
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Obesity is associated with numerous health conditions including the onsets of aggressive cancers. The question is, is it one of the Prostate Cancer causative? Studies show that it might increase* your risk of getting cancer. The percentages of cases attributed to obesity vary widely for different types of cancers. This article will narrow down to the risk of developing prostate cancer if obese. Keep reading to find out how obesity and prostate cancer are related.

Prostate Cancer (PCa) is known be the second most common type of cancer that affects American men. Cancer.Net estimated that in 2016, 180,890 men in the America will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, while 26,120 deaths are estimated to occur – as Prostate Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in America. Although the effect is not clear, it is believed that obesity is one of the risk factors of Prostate Cancer and this article aims to explore this link.

The Known

  • The prostate is a gland which is situated below the bladder and in front of the rectum, it is only found in men.
  • Prostate Cancer is common in men who are 50 and older.
  • 1 man out of 7 will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in his lifetime.
  • Although Prostate Cancer can be classified as a serious disease, most men diagnosed with Prostate Cancer do not die from it.
  • Prostate Cancer is conclusively diagnosed by a prostate biopsy.
  • Treatments for Prostate Cancer do exist and they include surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy.
  • Early detection of Prostate Cancer can reduce* future prostate problems.

What is Prostate Cancer?

Maybe we should start by briefly defining cancer. Cancer starts when some of the body’s cells start to multiply in an uncontrollable manner and extend to other tissues. It can start anywhere in the body of a human and can spread to other parts. Prostate Cancer therefore starts when cells in the prostate gland begin to divide uncontrollably.
There are different types of Prostate Cancer and the most common is adenocarcinomas. The other types include:

  • Sarcomas
  • Small cell carcinomas
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Transitional cell carcinomas

These types of Prostate Cancer, however, are rare – so if you have Prostate Cancer it is most likely to be an adenocarcinoma. Some Prostate Cancers can grow and spread quickly but most grow slowly.

Prostate Cancer Glance Info

What are The Risk Factors?

A risk factor is anything that directly affects your chance of having a certain disease, and in this case, cancer. This can be anything from things that you have control over to things that you can change. Here are a few risk factors worth noting taken from the American Cancer Society:

  • Age: As stated previously, Prostate Cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chances are much higher when you reach the age of 50. About 6 in 10 cases of Prostate Cancer are found in men above 65.
  • Race/ethnicity: The reasons for the racial and ethnic differences when it comes to being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer are not clear but it can be noted that Prostate Cancer occurs more in African-American men and Caribbean men who have an African origin compared to men of other races. It is often less likely to be found in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than non-Hispanic whites.
  • Family History: The saying “you can’t choose your family” sure has a lot of meaning here as Prostate Cancer can be inherited. So if you have a father or brother with Prostate Cancer; that more than doubles a man’s risk of getting this disease.
  • Gene changes: Even though they probably account for only a small percentage, a lot of gene changes/inherited mutations seem to raise the Prostate Cancer risk as well.
  • Geography: Prostate Cancer is most common in North America, North-western Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. On the other hand, Prostate Cancer is less prevalent in Asia, South America, Central America and Africa. It is not definite why this is the case, which leads us to our topic finding the link between obesity and Prostate Cancer!
Obesity and Prostate Cancer

What is Obesity?

According to this report, obesity refers to an excess amount of body fat. This is attributed to high fat consumption, which interestingly is more common in Western populations (remember the points mentioned under “geography” above). The “Western lifestyle” seems to be a growing factor in the prevalence of Prostate Cancer, according to this research study.

The Link Between Prostate Cancer and Obesity

  • Obese men have a positive energy balance, and have a larger intake of dietary fat and simple carbohydrates, all of which are linked with cancer.
  • Men in developing countries, who adopt the Western diet, have an increased Prostate Cancer risk.
  • Obesity makes it difficult to detect Prostate Cancer for many reasons, which include the fact that performing a digital rectal examination (DRE) on an obese man is more difficult.
  • Obesity may promote a relatively low risk of nonaggressive disease while concurrently increasing* the risk of aggressive Prostate Cancer.
  • An increased intake of calories (which is a high factor in obesity) has been positively linked with Prostate Cancer risk.

See also: How Soybean Can Reduce* the Risk of Prostate Cancer?

What Cancers Are Caused By Obesity?

High amount of body fat is associated with the increased risk of a number of cancers including:

  • Liver cancer – obese people are twice likely to develop liver cancer than people with normal weight. This is mainly in men as compared to women.
  • Gastric cardia cancer – obese people have a risk of developing cancer in the upper part of the stomach.
  • Endometrial cancer – the risk of getting this type of cancer for women increases* with increase* in weight.
  • Breast cancer – obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer not only in women but also in men.
  • Prostate cancer – studies link overweight as one of the main causes of obesity prostate cancer.
  • Gallbladder cancer – the risk is greater in obese women than in obese men.

Conclusions

Although the link of obesity and prostate cancer is not clear, we can conclude that the factors above do play an active role in promoting the progression of established Prostate Cancer. Lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications and exercise may improve* Prostate Cancer prognosis. Numerous dietary supplements such as pomegranate juice and soy products have been proposed to lower the risk of men getting Prostate Cancer. “Prevention is better than cure*” so it is advisable that men go for regular screenings which may help in early prevention and treatment of Prostate Cancer.

References

  • http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/prostate-cancer/statistics
  • http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/what-is-cancer
  • http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-risk-factors
  • http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/obesity_guidelines_archive.pdf
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0302283807004307

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.