The risk of dying from prostate cancer is higher in overweight men, concludes a large study published Thursday, May 5, without establishing a direct physiological link between these two phenomena.
This study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, is of unprecedented scope on the subject. The researchers examined the situation of more than 200,000 men from the base established by Biobank, an organization which has compiled health data for years in the United Kingdom. But they were not only based on these data and also took into account the main studies that already exist on the links between overweight and prostate cancer, covering a total of some 2.5 million cases.
“Wherever the fat is, it doesn’t make a big difference”
In the end, the researchers established that the risk of dying from prostate cancer, one of the most common in men, was indeed linked to being overweight and only increased the more the latter is important. We already suspected such a link, but we did not know in particular how much this threat concerns all men whose weight exceeds normal. Some researchers had for example made the assumption that it is essentially abdominal fat that promotes the appearance of serious prostate cancer: a large belly would be more of a risk factor than a better distributed overweight.
But this study debunks that theory: “no matter where the fat is, it doesn’t matter much“, underlined to AFP the epidemiologist Aurora Perez-Cornago, main author of the study. There is, however, an important limitation to this work: it is not able to explain precisely why overweight men die more from prostate cancer. Does being overweight contribute to the body producing molecules favoring this type of cancer? It is a hypothesis, which will be explored by researchers, but it is not certain.
It could just as well be that being overweight is sometimes a sign of less attention to one’s health, and that the men concerned go to see their doctor less when faced with early symptoms of cancer. “For example, suppose they start going to the bathroom more often at night, a classic symptom of prostate cancer: they may not feel like going to see a doctor.“says Aurora Perez-Cornago. Possible consequence: cancers that are not detected in time and thus become more deadly.