Study Finds Obese Men Have Greater Risk of Prostate Cancer Worsening

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Even with treatment, obese men have an elevated risk of prostate cancer worsening, a new study has found.

Duke University Medical Center researchers have found further proof of a link between obesity and prostate cancer, which have both increased in prevalence in the United States and Europe in recent years.

About one in six men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.  Prostate cancer is the second-most lethal cancer for men.

The Duke researchers studied nearly 300 men whose prostates had been removed due to cancer.  Because their cancers had reappeared, the men were also given androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), a chemical that inhibits the production of testosterone, which fuels prostate tumors.

They found that men who were overweight or obese had three times greater risk of the cancer spreading compared to normal men, despite receiving the same treatment.

Furthermore, overweight and obese men had an increased risk of their cancer spreading to the bone.  The heavier the men were, the greater the risk.

Lead researcher Christopher Keto, M.D., a urologic fellow at Duke University Medical Center, said that additional studies were needed to determine why heavy men fare worse than normal-weight men in regards to prostate cancer.  He suggested the problem may, in part, be due to the dosage of ADT.

“We think perhaps obese men may require additional ADT,” Keto said in a press release. “The dose is the same regardless of weight, while most drugs are dosed according to weight.”

New trials have also commenced to test the effects of diet and exercise on overweight and obese men whose prostate cancer treatment includes hormone therapy.

“If obesity is bad for prostate cancer, we may have to be more aggressive in our treatment,” said Stephen J. Freedland, M.D., associate professor of urology in the Duke Prostate Cancer Center and senior author of the study. “Ultimately, we aim to learn why, which in turn can lead us to better treatments for these men.”

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association.